Best columns: Europe
A base of jihadism in Europe
Die Welt (Germany)
Tiny Kosovo has become a hotbed of Islamist extremism, said Krsto Lazarevic. The mostly ethnic- Albanian and Muslim Balkan country is studded with mosques that preach the Salafist strain of militant Islam shared by al Qaida and ISIS. Hundreds of Kosovars have gone to Syria and Iraq to join extremist groups. Yet at the same time, Kosovars love the U.S. There’s a statue of former President Bill Clinton in the capital, Pristina, a token of gratitude for the 1999 NATO bombing campaign that drove Serbian forces out of Kosovo— then a province in the Serb-dominated Yugoslavia. Kosovo gained independence soon after, and it credits America with helping it achieve statehood.
So why are so many Kosovars being radicalized? The short answer is Saudi Arabia, which has poured money into Kosovo, spreading its radical version of Islam by building schools and mosques and importing Salafist clerics. “Previously secular Kosovo was transformed into a Salafist stronghold in Europe within a few short years.” Muslims in Kosovo had been barely observant for centuries, and “their ignorance about Islam made them more vulnerable to indoctrination.” Now the imam in Pristina’s largest mosque openly calls on Kosovars to take up arms in jihad. Many have already done so. “The threat they pose extends beyond Kosovo’s borders.”
Work longer to pay for Brexit
Brexit is coming for your pension, said Gaby Hinsliff. The British government announced last week that it was raising the state pension age to 68 starting in 2037—up from 65 today and 67 in 2026. One reason for the shift is the curbs on immigration the country plans to introduce when it leaves the European Union. Lower immigration in a graying country “means fewer young taxpayers to pick up a growing retirement tab.” It’s doubtful that seniors will be able to fill the employment gap and keep working as long as the nation’s finances require. Look at what happened some years back when the government raised the age at which women could claim a pension from 60 to parity with men at 65. Women who stopped working in their 50s—whether to care for relatives or because of a layoff—but “assumed their savings would last until they reached the finish line were worst hit when it emerged the finish line had moved.” Now those women are desperate for jobs but are “discovering that employers haven’t got the memo about 60 being the new 40.” Of course the latest change will most hurt the poor, particularly those in manual labor, who will struggle to keep working grueling jobs. Brexit “truly is the gift that keeps on giving down the generations.” ■