Note: I have added an update in the light of last nights London terror attack, coming as it does so soon after the Manchester one.
Three days after the event we are still in shock over the Manchester terror attacks that left 22 dead and many times that number injured and traumatized. I understand the need to pay our respects and not to make political capital. I accept the sentiments that life must go on and we must not give in to terrorists or over-react. I recognize too that some will want to retaliate, but I stand with Muslim and other groups who are threatened in this way, knowing many are decent people who condemn what happened. My earlier blog posted soon after I learned of what happened expresses such sentiments.
I have read widely concerning the events and the various reactions, trying to come to a view. Perhaps one statement I came across for the first time following these events was the St. Augustine quote (see above) encapsulates how I feel. We need to promote hope but we are also right to be angry and need the courage to do something about that anger. I realize there are no easy solutions and sadly acts of terrorism are now facts of life and given we are on critical alert tells me this may well happen again. When my Muslim friend expressed his deep regret over what happened, I know he speaks for many.
Yet there is a but … It is not enough to accept the status quo. We should be asking why the atrocity happened and what we can do in the future to prevent further atrocities. I am angry it is now deemed politically incorrect and Islamophobic to link the terrorist act with Islam. Of course most Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism and who respect the British way of life, some who are like my friend who is more community minded and stands more for British values than most Anglo-Saxon Britons. I respect their rights as British citizens including not to be harassed and their contribution to British society. But there is a significant number who aren’t of that ilk, whose take on Islam is not so much to go out of their way to demonstrate Islam is a religion of peace but rather that holy war is needed in order to establish Sharia law, the imperative of declaring “Allahu Akbar”, and whose agenda is to bring about the Islamization of the British culture, and using terrorist tactics if need be. While only a few do overt terrorist acts, many more support what they do. The holy book of Islam, the Koran, talks of peace and expresses noble sentiments, it also talks of waging jihad against the infidel.
I am angry government doesn’t get it and neither do the mayors of London and Manchester and many others. I am angry at the hypocrisy of our leaders, who condemn terrorism yet benefit from lucrative arm deals with one of the sponsors of Islamic terrorism – Saudi Arabia. I am angry when the political class put tolerance before keeping people safe, whose message is carry on as before and do little to prevent further attacks. I am angry, for while I accept the need for some immigration, including Muslims, it has not been on the basis of traditional Christian hospitality, with the expectation whoever comes into the country obeys the law and respects the way of life that is in the country and not demand special favours beyond what goes with being a citizen. I am angry when multi-culturalism is preferred over integration. I am angry at the way my country in cohorts with the Americans have supported regime changing wars in Iraq, Syria and Libya that have left a power vacuum that gave rise to a refugee crisis. I am angry in accepting refugees we have been duped to take in the bad people and the good have been left behind. I am angry that while it is right we don’t adopt draconian measures to counter threats, we have often not acted when there is reason to do so. I am angry those expressing concerns are banned from entering the country or shut up if in the country. I am angry when those who point out the down side of Islamic immigration are called racist and those who welcome it are hailed as enlightened. I am angry when Islamists engage in crime or anti-social behaviour, rather than robustly bringing them to task, they are often tolerated and appeased. I am angry when the ignorant pontificate over what Islam teaches. I am angry when mainstream media ignores news showing Islamists in a bad light. I am angry Islamic terror suspects walk the streets freely and those who protest about these things may be punished. I am angry at the unholy alliance between liberals, feminists and Islamists. I am angry when government uses “sledgehammer to crack nuts” ploys like the “equality oath” to tackle “the problem”, which discriminate against Christians. I am angry at the prospect of the further shutting down of free speech, especially on the Internet and by those pointing out home truths, with the reason given it is to help prevent further attacks. I am angry when we give into bullies rather than stand up to them. I am angry when people try to deflect the subject by bringing up the matter of “Christian terrorism” – all terrorism is objectionable but we must focus on the threats now. I am angry we let those who fight abroad for Isis return to the UK as if nothing happened. I am angry when we blame only ourselves when Islamists do not integrate. I am angry when people scoff at those calling for extreme vetting of people coming to our country who could pose a risk. I am angry at the number of unstable Middle East states that have become breeding grounds for extreme Islamist ideology and this has been part due to ill thought out foreign policy decisions. I am angry when Islamic terrorism isn’t called for what it is. And I am also angry when the ignorant attack peace loving Muslims or fail to recognise some atrocities are perpetrated by non Muslims. Each time I return to the subject, learning of new developments or new insights, I find more reasons to add to my “angry” list, but anger must translate to action.
Having become angry, we need courage to deal with the causes of that anger. While we must not over-react or resort to hate, especially that directed toward Muslims, we must not do what many do and remain ignorant and resort to pious platitudes like the need to be nice, nice people needing to unite, blaming those who wind up the perpetrators and emphasizing dialogue in order to deal with their grievances, and what we are seeing is simply as a result of a tiny number of misled people at work, who we condemn. In order to deal with a problem we need to understand what the problem is. While it is good to promote love, peace and harmony, and stand with all sections of the community on the basis of hope not hate, that alone won’t prevent further atrocities. I don’t have a definitive solution but identifying the problem is the first step. While the perpetrator of the Manchester atrocity, like the one in the recent London atrocity (see here), were both born in the UK, there seems little doubt they had been radicalized and this led to their actions. While we can’t stop people having wrong ideas, being exposed to evil ideology and doing harm, we must recognize Islamic extremism for what it is and take right measures to combat the Islamist (and other) threats. To merely accept terrorism as a fact of life as some do is to admit defeat. And more than that – there are those who are sick and tired of official ineptitude and will add to the problems we face if nothing is done.
Regarding many Muslim friends, who I respect, inspired by their religion, they attach importance to promoting peace, and they are right. It is also right to love. We are called to love our neighbour: Muslim and other. And because we love, we resolve to combat terrorism, Islamic and other, and not put political correctness over the protection of our citizens. Finally, it should be realised “we” may often only be a tiny proportion of the whole and because of it we (who see these things) ought to pray the above serenity prayer, and remember the Bible wisdom about being angry and not sinning.
Update 04/06/2017: Along with many Christians, I have been praying each day for Muslims and the Muslim world during this Ramadan season. There is no animosity felt and the motive is one of compassion. Despite the many concerns raised above concerning Islam, my general approach toward Muslims continues to be that of befriending. Yet (as this article sets out) Ramadan is the time when violence does escalate. So soon after the Manchester attack there is another London Terror attack motivated by Islamic extremists. I woke up early this morning to this news and I am in shock. I fully expect the same sort of sugar coated rhetoric we have seen before by our leaders, this time, who deny the root causes of the problem and don’t address and even deny those very issues that have made me angry. Like all decent people, I will stand with those who have been affected and peace loving Muslims everywhere, but I must affirm the proposition set out in the title: “Islamic terrorism – call it for what it is” is more poignant now than ever it has been. I believe we live in a time of crisis and making a right response is imperative.