Sunday, July 10, 2005

London Bombings and the Muslim Response

  • Father James V. Schall, S.J. responds to the London terrorist bombings in "The One War, The Real War" Ignatius Insight July 8, 2005.

    . . . The main battlefield of the war is not Iraq or even London tubes. It is in the media and public opinion in the United States and Europe about whether the will to do what is necessary to prevent these attacks is firm enough over a long period of time. Civilian and suicide bombings have a political purpose and a religious purpose.

    The political purpose is a calculated risk that continued bombings would show that Western powers cannot defend their own populations. Consequently, they should cease trying. They should rather, in return for "peace," submit to Islamic neutralization of their territories, a kind of compromised second-class citizenship. Likewise, they should withdraw from any effort to prevent such attacks in Muslim lands themselves.

    The religious purpose of this war, in the minds of its advocates, is to succeed in subjecting the world to Allah. This purpose, no doubt, sounds preposterous. But I think that we misunderstand the problem if we do not disassociate what these terrorists themselves say from our theories of "terrorism." The problem is not caused by fanaticism or some political, sociological, or psychological derangement. . . .

    . . . Al-Qaeda forces may have seen their reputation so questioned by the effects of the Afghanistan and Iraq phases of the war that they felt it absolutely necessary to show some flashy sign of strength. If so, this too is in effect a sign of their weakness. They revealed themselves for what they are once more. It has been taken as a truism that it is better to fight these forces on their own grounds and not in London or New York or Madrid. The war overseas does not prove that it is not effective, but that it is. But the latter three cities, however orchestrated, are part of the same war.

    In this sense, we can be grateful that the Islamic terrorists in London again called our flagging attention to the real war, the one against those who first declared war against us in the name of their religious and political mission. The first effort has been and still is to undermine any effective opposition. Whether this purpose can be achieved by terrorism and its effect on public opinion remains to be seen.

    From Communion and Liberation's press office:

    After Madrid, London. The great peace of postwar Europe is over. The factor that sows war is radical violence that refuses to accept reality, considering it wrong because it fails to correspond to its own vision, the sole determinant for what deserves to exist or be destroyed.

    The London massacre reveals that Islamic radicalism is the tragic emergence of a nihilistic position, which is seeking to impose itself in Europe as elsewhere as the standard of thought and action. The terrorists show they are its coherent disciples.

    In this situation of anti-human barbarity, as Benedict XVI has said, we will follow the Pope "in the certainty that charity is first of all communication of the truth". And the truth is witness in the places of human experience where life is loved in its infinite value and in all its embodiments even more than the terrorists "love death". Even the smallest attempt in this direction is not unavailing, because it affirms the inexorable positivity of reality, which nihilism can never overcome.

  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld:

    The London attacks have a special resonance for the American people -- for America has no stronger or closer ally in the world than Great Britain. We are bound together by a common heritage, a common language, and a deeply shared commitment to freedom. As President Bush indicated earlier this morning, the United States will stand with the British people with unflinching resolve.

    Though it is not yet known with certainty precisely who is responsible, we do know terrorists' intentions. They strike without warning and without regard for human life in the hope that they can frighten and intimidate free people -- to change our way of life. And they won't stop until their side or our side has prevailed.

    But if these terrorists thought they could intimidate the people of a great nation, they picked the wrong people and the wrong nation. For generations, tyrants, fascists, and terrorists have sought to carry out their violent designs upon the British people only to founder upon its unrelenting shores.

    Before long, I suspect that those responsible for these acts will encounter British steel. Their kind of steel has an uncommon strength. It does not bend or break.

    The British have learned from history that this kind of evil must be confronted. It cannot be appeased. Our two countries understand well that once a people give in to terrorists' demands, whatever they are, their demands will grow.

    The British people are determined and resolute. And I know the people of the United States are proud to stand at their side.

  • Terror on the Dole, by David Cohen, Evening Standard. 20 April 2004 gathers disturbing reactions from young Muslims from the Luton branch of al-Muhajiroun, "an extremist Muslim group with about 800 members countrywide":

    "As far as I'm concerned, when they bomb London, the bigger the better," says Abdul Haq, the social worker. "I know it's going to happen because Sheikh bin Laden said so. Like Bali, like Turkey, like Madrid - I pray for it, I look forward to the day."

    "I agree with you, brother," says Abu Yusuf, the earnest-looking financial adviser sitting opposite. "I would like to see the Mujahideen coming into London and killing thousands, whether with nuclear weapons or germ warfare. And if they need a safehouse, they can stay in mine - and if they need some fertiliser [for a bomb], I'll tell them where to get it."

    With people like these residing in England, it's a wonder the bombings didn't happen sooner. (Via Rich Leonardi @ Ten Reasons).

    Also, Steve Coll and Susan B. Glasser have an article in today's Washington Post telling how Islamic Radicals Found a Haven in London.

  • If It's a Muslim Problem, It Needs a Muslim Solution", says Thomas Friedman, noting that "To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden." (New York Times July 8, 2005)

  • Global Voices Online provides a Middle East and North Africa Friday Blog Roundup of reactions to the London bombing, as well as from the Muslim blogosphere. If ordinary Muslims clearly recognize and condemn the evil, where are the clerics who will speak out on their behalf?

    The anti-terrorism banner is by Mustapha @ Beirut Spring.

  • A prayer from Pontifications:

    May God console the bereaved. May God execute his justice upon the murderers. May God deliver us from the scourge of terrorism and violence. And may the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

  • This Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI called for prayers for the victims as well as the Muslim bombers, pleading for them to "stop in the name of God" (Source: CBC News July 10, 2005):

    "To those who foment feelings of hatred and to those who carry out such repugnant terrorist actions, I say to you: 'God loves life, which he created, not death. Stop in the name of God!"'

    Benedict made the comments - his most forceful against terrorism since becoming pope - during his traditional Sunday blessing to pilgrims and tourists gathered under his studio window in St. Peter's Square.

    "We all feel a profound sadness for last Thursday's atrocious terrorist attacks in London," he said to applause from the crowd. "Let us pray for those killed, for those injured and for those dear to them. But let us also pray for the attackers: Let the Lord touch their hearts," he said.

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