Thursday, May 25, 2017
A VERY Good Question!
There’s one question about the Manchester atrocity infinitely more pressing than any other. Why did a young man brought up in the city murder 22 of his fellow citizens in cold blood, many of them children, who had breathed the same air and walked the same streets?
It is curious how people skirt around this conundrum when offering an answer. Many partial explanations are given — many of them fine as far as they go, but incomplete, and therefore inadequate.
Donald Trump says terrorists such as Salman Abedi are ‘losers’ worthy of our contempt. So they are. Many of them are pathetic types, often with histories of petty crime. Yet there are lots of such people in the world, and most of them don’t contemplate mass murder.
Others reasonably point out many terrorists are drug takers, as Abedi is alleged to have been. They rightly say repeated drug abuse warps minds and can induce paranoia. All true, but it still does not take us to the heart of the matter.
Still others spread the net of blame wider, and cite the failures of recent British foreign policy, and in particular the destabilisation by Western forces of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, which has led to the rise of Islamic fundamentalists who may have nurtured Salman Abedi.
And so it goes on. One explanation comes hard on the heels of another. Each sounds plausible. Each is part of the truth. But without one crucial factor they would not, even in combination, have led to the barbarity of the Manchester attack.
No, the point we must address squarely is Abedi was an Islamic fanatic. Not only that. All recent attacks — in Paris, Nice, Brussels, Stockholm and anywhere else you care to think of — were done in the name of Islam.
Perhaps the point that the perpetrators have all been Muslim is such an obvious one that commentators don’t feel it worth mentioning. But I rather think most prefer not to grapple with an uncomfortable truth which is hard to make sense of.
Let’s be honest and admit that none of these outrages has been committed by Sikhs or Hindus or Christians, though it is perfectly true that some members of the IRA who planted bombs over 20 years ago regarded themselves as devout Roman Catholics.
To illustrate the problem, one only had to listen to Andy Burnham, the newly elected Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, on Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday morning. He is, I’ve no doubt, a decent and generally sensible man.
Yet he did all he could to represent Salman Abedi as a one-man band acting on his own account or with a handful of similarly deluded accomplices. Burnham said he disapproved of the term ‘Islamic terrorism’. Abedi was ‘a terrorist, an extremist, not a Muslim’.
The newly elected Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham
According to Burnham, the Manchester bomber ‘no more represented the Muslim community’ in that city than the killer of the Labour MP Jo Cox last June represented the ‘white Christian community’.
If only he were right! Thomas Mair, who murdered Jo Cox, was a lunatic who spoke for virtually no one and enjoyed no support from his community. I’m afraid the same can’t be said of Salman Abedi.
It now transpires that his father is suspected of having links to an Al-Qaeda-related group in Libya, while his younger brother was arrested in Tripoli last night over alleged support for ISIS.