If you get asked "Where were you on the 11th of September 2001?" we all have an immediate answer. The same goes for Viennese people for the 2nd of November 2020. Terror attacks burn themselves into our collective memory. We all remember. But it is not always easy to talk about them.
On Monday, 8th November, we did talk about this heavy, complex and also important topic at the "Herbstsymposium" by the Donau-Universität Krems and the Federal Ministry of Interior. Together with Peter Neumann (King's College London), Guido Steinberg (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik), Stefan Goertz (Hochschule des Bundes für öffentliche Verwaltung), and Dr. Nicolas Stockhammer (Donau-Universität Krems) we discussed the developments in international terrorism, how to counteract radicalisation and ways to combat terrorism these days.
After listening to the highly interesting insights by the experts, I was most moved by the answer of one of them to my closing question, how it actually felt and what it did to them emotionally, working with terrorists and attacks on a daily basis. He replied what shocked him the most was that sometimes when analyzing a terrorist over a long time, he eventually starts liking him - because, in the end, they are not always monsters but also human beings. This hit the complexity of a topic like this on the head.
Kardinal Schönborn had mentioned in the commemoration of the Vienna terror attack a few days earlier, it is the complexity of the world that often leads to people feeling overwhelmed and seeking simple solutions in aggression and terror. "But there is the counter-image that is stronger, that is hope. Community. Compassion. Standing up for each other. It is where humanity shows itself. "
I thoroughly believe the more we know also about heavy topics like terrorism - where it begins, what leads humans down this path, and how we can save each other from it, the less we will seek for aggression but rather common understanding and growth. So that there will be no more dates that will burn themselves into our collective memory.
If anyone is interested in watching the whole discussion (in German): https://lnkd.in/gwtMfU7U
Picture by BMI, Gerd Pachauer