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Speech by Luca Guglielminetti for PLENARY MEETING OF THE RADICALISATION AWARENESS NETWORK (RAN) on 28 January 2013

On the occasion of the RAN network launch in September 2011, I compared the stories of terrorism victims to those of Nazi concentration camp survivors. The collection of testimonies by survivors, which occurred after World War II and, between publications and audio-visual interviews, constitute a body of literature that is one of the founding values that built Europe, which at that time was taking off thanks to the work of figures like Monnet, Schumann, Adenauer, De Gasperi. We can consider this body of literature a counter-narrative to the fascist, racist, nationalist, and chauvinist propaganda that spread through many European Countries. In fact, the constant message from many holocaust testimonies was this: "I'm telling this story today, so that it will not be repeated tomorrow."

Today, decades later, in spite of many educational initiatives that still occur in schools throughout Europe to bring those warnings to life, we know that that body of literature has not stopped groups and individuals from becoming active, and often violent, interpreters of the new forms of fascism or racism. And yet, on the other hand, even though it is not possible to quantify how much that body of literature and its distribution among young Europeans--Anne Frank's diaries, just to make one example--was effective as a cautionary tale, it cannot be denied that it played a determining educational factor in the cultural education and the critical thinking skills of entire generations, who have largely been immune to these totalitarian and

xenophobic diseases.

The hypothesis I made at that time was that the victims of terrorism and their testimonies can play a similar role in a current context of the dangers of violent radicalisation in Europe. What are the differences, and what are the similarities between the two narratives? Has this hypothesis been confirmed? Under what conditions?

I can see three similarities. The first is that victims of terrorism share the same viewpoint described by Primo Levi regarding the victims of the Holocaust toward their executioners: "Neither forgiveness nor vengeance, but justice." The second is the obligation--though often quite arduous--of bearing witness. Tzvetan Todorov taught that when an individual or a group of people have lived through exceptional or tragic circumstances, the right to remember and to bear witness becomes a duty. A duty the victims of terrorism rarely shun in the few occasions offered them. The third is the value and the limits of such a testimony. It's Primo Levi again who taught us that it is not the duty of ex-victims to understand their killers. Their testimonies are only some of the useful resources we have to reconstruct history and understand the truth of events, but they possess an ethical and moral value that is essential for an education targeted toward tolerance and a democratic civil society without violence.

And now I come to the differences. The most obvious one is the quantity: a lesser number of victims means a lesser body of literature.

Then there is the geographic and chronological diversity of terrorist acts that date from the 60s in the 20th century to today, and occur in different regions of the world, with their own intensities and characteristics. The difference I wish to emphasise, however, is the one that makes the narrative of victims of terrorism more difficult to understand for those who would benefit from their testimonies. Such difference lies in the very nature of this phenomenon, which eludes instant understanding and a Manichean interpretation. It's not by chance that for almost a century the international community has been searching for a shared definition to describe this phenomenon unequivocally. The victims of terrorism, in fact, are victims of a phenomenon that is not easily interpreted by society and public opinion, due to the equivocal nature of how it's expressed and the indirect nature of its methods of action. A phenomenon in which its authors attribute their motive to "good" causes, or as a response to grave injustices suffered, while the action itself is carried out with violence, in most cases, toward completely random victims, or victims faintly connected to the presumed responsibilities the authors have accused them of. In short, this phenomenon can be interpreted in multiple ways, which are not always explicit, and this peculiarity does not make it easy to recognise the victims as the "good" part of the conflict that society can identify with. Part of society, in fact, is affected by the propaganda and sees the terrorist as the hero; another part stays neutral in regards to the conflict, hindered by its complexity and the intricacy of the multiple interests of the parts at play.

And so, if the survivor of Nazi and Fascist savagery can, in their narration, describe and warn against the banality of evil--to borrow the definition of Hannah Arendt--in a context that is extreme due to the organised nature of the violence, but linear due to

the roles played (those responsible, the victims, those who helped the victims, those who helped the executioners...). On the other hand, the victim of terrorism has to describe an evil that manifests itself through an act that not only communicates widespread terror, but that carries a message whose recipient is not always clearly identifiable or is unambiguous, and whose actors--with the exception of the victims-perform in an international geopolitical context where they carry multiple interests, some obvious others obscure. Let's take the case of ETA in Spain for example. Can anyone deny that France, a country bordering the Basque Country, has had an unambiguous and transparent attitude toward the ETA terrorists who acted furtively in her territory? One of the first lessons learned by Italian victims of terrorism, ever since the 80s, is that terrorism, even the most seemingly local and indigenous kind, is always an international phenomenon. It is even more difficult to narrate the context of jihadist terrorist attacks, with their network of cells that intersect in a thick and obscure network of geopolitical relations, whose complexity is incomparable to the simplicity of the pattern on the field during the Second World War: with the Axis powers on one side and the Allied Nations on the other.

This difference highlights the complexity of the narrative that victims of terrorism have to face to describe the context they found themselves in suffering violence and pain, and finds a solution precisely at the supranational level, such as the European one, that somehow untangles the facts and their moral value from the national political contingency, where they risk being closed in sterile or instrumental readings, and thus stripped of their moral and educational value. Let's think about the situation for the victims of the 11 March 2004 train bombings in Madrid. You will remember that on that same day two conflicting theories were

presented on who was responsible for the massacre: the ETA or the Jihadists. These theories were politically instrumental for two major Spanish parties, in function of the upcoming parliamentary elections and in relation to their differing attitudes toward the intervention in the Iraq war and Basque separatism. In this way the victims were able to observe that their pain had no absolute value in and of itself, but gained value as a function of the ideology for which they were attacked.

Therefore, it is only at a supranational level that premise conditions can mature and give value to the testimonies of the victims of terrorism. The first step in this direction was the creation of the European Day in Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism introduced by the European Parliament in 2004, and the working paper of 2005 titled "Fighting terrorism. A memorial report dedicated to the victims of terrorism" whose opening words read: "When an EU citizen becomes a victim of terrorism it is the entire community of citizens of the Union that is affected." These two actions were the prologue to the activities that followed in the coming years, and which through projects and networks supported and financed by the European Commission, have allowed the victims and their organisations to develop an increasingly deeper analysis of the critical issues and potential of their voices.

An initial picture of the conditions in which the victims' voices can become an effective counter-narrative, similar to those of the victims of the Shoah, can be found in the document with the recommendations prepared by our work group within RAN. But the most important can also be found in tomorrow's "Discussion Paper," where we ask support for the victims of terrorism. This support should be understood as a need to raise their social and moral status with policies that, in favouring a path of resilience, would enhance and strengthen the authority of their voice and testimony before public opinion. These support policies--at a local, national and European

level--are therefore a precondition so that the voices of victims of terrorism gain the value and strength of a counter-narrative with educational value in the prevention of violent radicalism among the young and students, on the one hand, and capable of contrasting the various forms of propaganda with their messages of destruction, hatred, racism and intolerance on the other.

Thank you for listening.