Paris Attack Thoughts

I had planned to write about several stories which had appeared in last week’s news but that plan changed after the tragic events in Paris last Friday evening.

Paris floral tributesIt goes without saying no words can sufficiently condemn the actions of the perpetrators and whilst any attack like this is indefensible, it’s somehow all the worse when you consider it seemed to be deliberately aimed at the younger generation.

Equally as worrying though is the reaction to the bombings and the number of knee-jerk reactions, from many different perspectives, many of which play into the hands of extremists.

Let’s look at some of the issues in more detail.

Islam is to blame for these attacks.

This is simple to debunk, Islam is not to blame for these attacks. Islam is used as a “justification”, an excuse by these terrorists. The so-called jihadists have no more to do with mainstream Islam than, for example, the Ku Klux Clan has to do with mainstream Christianity.

Yet people are quick to vilify all Muslims because of the actions of a small minority.

More fundamentally, although it’s probably not the best word to use in these circumstances, I despair that any form of religion still has a place at all in the 21st century.

Yes, religion and the existence of a form of god or higher being had a “justification” when what happens in the natural world cannot easily be explained.  However, those days are long gone and most, if not all, of these so called “mysteries” can now be explained by science, especially as we gather an understanding of quantum physics.

Justin WelbyI despair that I live in a country where we have an established church and it is intrinsically tied in with how the country is run. I find it incredulous that bishops, who earn a very generous stipend and often live in luxury palaces, are afforded a role in Government just because they promulgate some myth about sky fairies.

I am offended that Christian churches preach about looking after the poor yet both the Church of England and Roman Catholic churches are holders of incredible, indeed obscene, wealth which does not find its way to the poor who need help. How many starving Bishops are there, how many Bishops live in poverty? They are all hypocrites, although – to his credit – the current Pope does seem to be trying to address it, although he is doomed to fail and it would not surprise me at all if he “passed away” before too much “damage” was done to the way of life of the Curia, which makes the Mafia look like pussy cats by comparison.

I’m of the generation where I was indoctrinated as a child at school. The Christian story, and story is what it is, was taught as fact – you could not, were not allowed to, argue against or question it. The Bible, we were taught, was fact – rubbish, it’s a collection of “morality” tales no more or less valid than a book like Aesop’s Fables.   

I wonder how many people realise two of the four Gospels in the new testament were written some 300 years after the events they set out to contemporaneously relate? How many of the books of the New Testament were written to fit in with the political climate of the time and to secure the dominant positions of the early leaders of the church?

BibleAs a child I fell for the story hook, line and sinker to the extent I even used to go to church. Eventually I saw through the fairy stories, the myths and hypocrisy.  Not long after I left the church the hypocrisy was underlined when the assistant curate at the church I attended ended up being a guest of Her Majesty because of his penchant of putting boys over his knee and spanking their bare backsides, using his “trusted” role to gain access to his victims.

Of course, IS and their likes want the bombings to lead to more Islamophobia and they see it as “justification” for their existence. It’s a case, in their eyes, of it being the world against Islam. Every anti-Muslim post, every anti-Muslim article, every anti-Muslim tweet plays into the hands of these sick people.

Perversely, it also plays into the hands of right wing extremists in this country, the likes of the self-styled Britain First, who want to foster discord in society and yet, not as bad as IS, they are potentially just as, if not more, dangerous. 

Migrants are to blame for the Paris bombings

Refugees in HungaryThis is an area where there is no black or white answer, indeed it’s a horrible murky grey issue but it’s an issue being exploited by both sides.

Most of those coming to Europe are genuine migrants, fleeing the civil war in Syria. Be it fleeing the Assad regime or the so called IS. However, it is also abundantly clear there are those who are not genuine refugees, in the internationally legally defined meaning of a refugee. Some are economic migrants and it is naïve in the extreme to assume the exodus is not being used as cover by terrorists.

The problem is how do you identify who falls into which category?

The more worrying problem is we, in Europe, are now too late to do anything about it, the door has been opened, the genie has been let out of the bottle.

What should have happened, and I realise this will offend the lovey-dovey lefties, is all those wanting refugee status should have been put in camps in the first safe country they arrived in and they should have then processed individually with full background checks carried out. Yes, it would have taken a long time and it would put pressure on receiving countries but with international support it could have been managed.

Now we have absolutely no idea who is roaming free in Europe, not helped by the EU open border policy.

Of course many have latched onto this on social media.

Some are calling for the demonization and expulsion of all migrants – this is not the answer. It’s not physically possible and in the case of genuine refugees it just compounds their situation and it more likely to fester more discontent and play into the hands of the terrorists.

Equally as dangerous as calling for the expulsion of migrants is arguing none of these “migrants” can be terrorists.

Paris AttackA friend of mine shared a post on Facebook yesterday which naively attempted to debunk the idea one of the bombers could have been a migrant. I’m hoping the friend, who is a very intelligent person, who shared it did so to show the stupidity of the argument, rather than endorsing the sentiments.

Anyone who says or believes no terrorists came in with the migrants is sadly deluded.

It doesn’t need to be a large number of the migrants, even a couple of dozen out of the tens of thousands is enough to wreak havoc. To deny the possibility is simply dangerous and absurd. 

Why the focus on Paris when there are bombings throughout the world?

This has been a common theme on social media.

Of course there is more of a focus on the bombings in Paris throughout Europe – when something happens in your own back yard it is more significant, it’s more personal.

I’ve been to Paris, I love Paris, I’ve eaten on the terrace of a French restaurant more times than I care to remember, it could have been me.

This attack could have happened anywhere in Europe, it’s just unfortunate it was Paris, it could have been Brussels, Berlin, London even Milton Keynes where I live.

Those in the Western World can relate more closely to events in Paris, most of us recognise it could easily have been us or our loved ones involved – it’s more personal.

It doesn’t mean we don’t care about those killed in other terrorist attacks – however we only have so much compassion we can give, if we spent our entire lives worrying about every single victim throughout the world we would be jabbering wrecks.

I also wonder how many of those arguing the case for treating other terrorist victims the same way are making the point as if to say “look at me, aren’t I compassionate?”

Compassion is not measured by the wearing your heart on your sleeve.

Leabanon FlagComparisons have been made with bombings in Beirut and Baghdad in the days either side of the Paris attacks. Yes it is sad people have died in those attacks and their lives are no less valuable than those lost in Paris.

Thankfully it’s rare for such atrocities to occur in Europe, however – and it’s a reflection of how humans react - if there were bombings in Europe on a near daily basis it would soon stop becoming headline news – it’s news because it is exceptional in the context of Western Europe.      

Excluding Paris, 6,711 people have been killed in terrorist attacks so far in 2015, of which 6,018 can be attributed to IS or their affiliates – every single one of the deaths is regrettable (apart from the terrorists who killed themselves in the process of carrying out their deeds) but I’m not going to lose sleep over those I cannot relate to. If that last statement offends some people – tough but I’m not going to be a hypocrite and show faux compassion.

What next?

This is not the time for political point scoring but leaders (and former leaders) in the “West” need to examine their consciences as their actions led to the growth of the likes of IS.

I wonder how easily Tony Bliar and George W Bush sleep at night – probably very well as they aren’t paying the price for their actions. Perhaps if the International Courts grew some balls then they would be bought to account for their actions.

Unfortunately,  IS is here and cannot be ignored. Action, and decisive action, needs to be taken to deal with them. It’s not a perfect situation by any stretch of the imagination but it’s where we are.

I saw a post on Facebook this morning calling the French terrorists for bombing IS targets in Syria today – that has to be one of the most out of touch, naive comments I’ve seen since the Paris attacks – what does the poster want to do – ignore them and hope they go away? Negotiate – with whom? Put them on the naughty step?

The world needs to unite to address this problem – this is the opportunity for the United Nations, for the first time in its existence, to do what it says on the tin – it will not be easy, the price will be high but the IS problem will not go away unless decisive action is taken.

Of course it is not just a case of attacking IS in its bases in the Middle East but rooting out the extremists hiding in our midst - some of the solutions will be alien, indeed abhorrent,  to many of us but extreme threats need extreme solutions.