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Illegal Pakistani migrants fomenting extremism and security challenges in Europe

The unchecked illegal migration from Pakistan to Europe during the past few decades has turned into a security and law & order nightmare for the host countries. According to some estimates of Pakistani authorities, close to 40,000 Pakistani citizens attempt illegal passage to Europe via Iran and Turkey every year, although the actual number is expected to be higher. Many of them find shelter and protection from religious groups like Tablighi Jammat, which runs several thousand mosques across Europe. Over the years, the group has attained to a significant headcount and is now proving to be an instrumental force behind rising extremism in Europe.

04.05.2022 21:16
Piše: Valerio Fabbri
Ključne besede:   Pakistan   illegal immigrants   EU   Greece   Dominique Bilde   terrorism   islam   France

Foto: Al Jazeera

Apart for acting as agents of extremism, a large section of illegal Pakistani immigrants pose a serious burden on the capacity of law-enforcement agencies of host countries.

In October 2020, France MEP Dominique Bilde called Pakistan a serious security threat for the sale of European Union passports and visas to criminals. Her comments came in the wake of the September 2020 Paris attack outside Charlie Hebdo’s former offices. The attacker was a citizen of Pakistan, who entered France illegally and acquired citizenship by falsifying his documents.

 

After settling the livelihood question in European countries, Pakistani migrants focus on deepening religious roots in their neighbourhoods. Establishing illegal mosques to promote their version of Islam is one of their preferred tools towards this objective, and not only in major European countries. A new Pakistani mosque named Gulzar-e-Madina was inaugurated on April 19, 2022 in Megara near Athens. More than 100 Pakistanis attended the event presided by Faizul Hasan Qadri, the Grand Imam of Birmingham. The land purchase and construction work is said to be financed through the UK-based Bahu Trust, and the mosque is being run as an Islamic Cultural Centre to evade local laws, since necessary permission for operation has not been granted by local authorities. At the time of inauguration, the Grand Imam of Birmingham appealed to locals of Pakistani origin for financial help to set up more such mosques in other areas of Greece. He also asked them to identify areas in Greece having large Pakistani population and start such mosques in make-shift shelters.

 

 

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The unregulated rise in the number of such mosques has the potential of spreading extremist form of Islam throughout Europe. The problem has been identified by various Western agencies in the past, but Pakistanis keep on devising ways to get around regulations on the issue. During the last decade, various European countries came out with measures to prevent the rising wave of extremism. Several of them have banned wearing religious symbols or religious clothing, either completely or in certain circumstances. For example, France in 2011 outlawed full-face coverings, preventing Muslim women from being able to wear the burqa or niqab in public. And in 2010 several cities in Catalonia banned the burqa and niqab, as well as face-covering veils, in public buildings. 

 

Apart for acting as agents of extremism, a large section of illegal Pakistani immigrants pose a serious burden on the capacity of law-enforcement agencies of host countries. Local law and order incidents involving Pakistanis are reported from different countries almost every month. On April 25, 2022, two groups of Pakistanis based in Phaistos, a municipality of southern Crete, clashed violently. Four of them were arrested by local police after residents complained of disturbing peace in the area, and the locals are now calling for deportation of Pakistanis. Another incident of fight between two groups of Pakistani citizens occurred in Marathona, near Athens, during a friendly game on April 24th, 2022. The game was inaugurated by the President of Pakistani community in Greece, Javeid Aslam Arian. However, supporters of Javeid Aslam and other factions of Pakistani community ended up fighting with each other.

 

According to Pakistani sources, more than 6000 Pakistanis have been deported from Greece since 2015. Realising the grave security threat these immigrants pose to their neighbourhoods, European countries have begun actively pursuing their deportations. Refraining from action in regard to Pakistan’s state-sponsorship of terrorism goes against Europe’s own counter-terrorism policies and contributes to global insecurity. This inaction at the European level is compounded by specific situations in individual EU countries whereby the failure to address inefficient policies pushed by the military prevents Pakistan from complying with its international obligations.

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