This week saw unprecedented terrorist attacks across three continents.
First, reports from Lyon France told of a factory containing dangerous gases, targeted presumably because of its American ownership. The attempt to blow up the factory failed, but police later found the decapitated body of a worker, his head impaled on a nearby railing, accompanied by the Islamic flag. Four people have been arrested, including the main suspect, Yassin Sahli, who has been on police radar for years.
As if this were not enough, reports from Sousse, Tunsia described terrifying scenes of people fleeing the beach with their children and screaming, before barricading themselves in hotel rooms dominated the news.
A gunman came from the beach hiding his Kalashnikov under a parasol before opening fire on the tourists. From there he entered the Hotel Imperial through the pool, shooting people as he went. Sun loungers were used as stretchers as bodies were ferried from the beach to hospital. At least 36 people were killed and many more injured. Most of those dead were British and on holiday in this usually peaceful resort, which attracts 400,000 Brits every year. One gunman was killed and there are conflicting reports regarding the whereabouts of a second gunman.
Let us switch now to Kuwait, where at least 25 people were killed by an explosion at a Shia mosque in Kuwait city during Friday prayers. More than 200 people were injured. The attack occurred when the mosque was at its busiest. IS has claimed direct responsibility for this attack, although the other two were inspired by the same ideology.
Police formed a cordon around the mosque’s complex immediately after the explosion, preventing people from entering or gathering near the area. Ambulances could be seen ferrying the wounded from the site.
The three attacks come just days after after an Islamic State (Isis) spokesman urged jihadists to make the holy month of Ramadan “a time of calamity for the infidels … Shias and apostate Muslims”.
The purpose of this article is not to break news. Above is just a short summary of the three separate attacks.
Were these attacks coordinated? The most terrifying aspect of this fateful day is that they were not. Terror cells inspired by ISIS have proliferated within and outside Europe, all aiming for a Western or Shia connection. This kind of activity is precisely what defines TERROR, because no one can know which target is next. Most of these acts are perpetrated by as few as one or two people, who at quite prepared to relinquish their own lives if it means destroying the lives of many.
France has a large Muslim population in the area surrounding Lyon, and the ownership of this factory made it a primary target. In Kuwait, fellow Muslims were killed as an act of sectarian warfare, because Shia Muslims are not to be tolerated. In Tunisia, those responsible played a blinder, because not only have they killed British subjects, they have put an end to Tunisia’s main source of income- tourism. Tourism of course means a certain engagement with Western lifestyle and values, and this is to be avoided at all costs.
What IS really want is to turn the Middle East back into Medieval times or even before, in the context of an ideology which embraces death, torture, destruction, an ideology which promotes hate over love, and is in no way life enhancing.
Why are people drawn to ISIS?
Young men ( and women) from all over Europe, but especially France and Britain have gone to fight for or aid the Caliphate in some way. When it is too late, many of them realise what a ghastly mistake they have made. Instead of a romantic ideal, the reality is a woman is given, without choice, to an Islamic soldier, and on to another should the first husband die in battle. The young men are either cannon fodder or assigned menial tasks.
In previous articles I have tried to find a reason why young Muslims, who have a reasonable chance of a future in Europe, especially if they integrate more fully, would wish to fight for this brutal organisation. I have cited American and British foreign policy, marginalisation and alienation from the society in which they live, radicalisation via the internet…..but this cannot be the whole story, surely?
I have a theory, which may be false. It certainly cannot be proven. The first generation Muslim immigrants to Britain were from Pakistan in the 1960s. They did not integrate well, but neither were they welcomed. However they lived in a self imposed segregated community and were not troublesome. But subsequent generations have become far more political and radical, and have taken to wearing Islamic dress, especially post 9/11.
The normal trajectory of an educated immigrant would be to assimilate the host’s culture, marry within the host’s community, and voilà, no problem.
At school, the Muslim child is immersed in values in direct antithesis to those taught at home: sex outside marriage is OK; gay people are not an aberration but part of the community. And so on…So, the young Muslim has no real link with the philosophy of the school, the school which is not an extension of the home. Similarly there is a problem with values taught in the home- be a good citizen and Muslim, don’t get into trouble, work hard and you can be just like your parents.
This obvious disconnect has an outlet for some in radical Islam, where jihadists preach of an Islamic Utopia under Sharia Law. This ideal is seductive, and provides a bond, a family, in just the same way a gang does to its members.
The problem is that this seductive narrative which is so alluring, is one of hate, nihilism and destruction, and is not ultimately life enhancing for anyone. That ISIS must be destroyed is irrefutable, but how is a much more difficult question, which I have raised many times in the past.
I now find myself asking a very non PC, non liberal question: can Islam in any form co exist with the other monotheistic religions, Judaism and Christianity? Can it even coexist with a secular society? Is the God of Islam just too different? Can a religion which places the burden of social control and morality solely on the women, while the men act with impunity, ever have a place in Western culture?
When the hijab comes off, and women go to the mosque with their menfolk as equals; when there is no more talk of Sharia Law replacing Common Law, when jihad is an antiquated word; then I’ll believe we can peacefully co exist.