It is a strange thing waking up to shocking news and sifting though comments by all and sundry on the events (see here, here and here). Surreal as it is, I am no longer surprised – such horrors happen all too frequently. I am sure it is right that we unite in our grief, express our sadness that such things happen and sympathies to those affected by what has happened and stand together in solidarity. Once again we see the best of humanity when dealing with the effects of this evil, and it is apt that today our nation mourns.
It seems evident from the three reports referred to that the attack has been inspired by radical Islam and the attacker(s) is a suicide bomber targeting children, with details subject to confirmation. Scenarios like this have become almost common place in recent years and this is a phenomenon that affects the nations of the world and none are immune. As much as I was shocked by the news, I was not surprised. As much as the factor is played down in order not to promote hate, it appears not unrelated to Islamic ideology. As much as our leaders might downplay that element, it won’t help if they do.
This is the time to deal with the immediate aftermath and to mourn and I welcome calls to use this day to pay our respects. But none can escape the need to face the reality of what happens all too often and take steps to ensure these things do not happen in future. I have offered views on how we might combat terrorism in the past as I try to understand what is happening and why, and have been castigated for doing so. I hope the authorities will take the right measures, but fear they won’t. There is a need for calm, not to over-react and to promote peace but there should also be righteous anger that these things happen with nothing done to stop it and sadly I fear we as a country have been brainwashed not to appear to be extreme. It is right that our politicians have suspended election campaigning today out of shared respect but I hope against hope that they will address the concerns raised here. But right now I reflect and grieve.