The horrific attacks on the people of Paris prompted an outpouring of anti-Muslim sentiment on the social media, long before Islamic State took responsibility for what happened.
We all know the score now – or at least we should: At least 127 people lie dead and many more injured, and France is in a state of emergency after a series of bomb and gun attacks in Paris on the evening of Friday 13 November. The terrorist group Islamic State claimed responsibility, several hours after the attacks took place.
The social media – in particular, Twitter – responded with hysteria that was mostly directed at Muslims, regardless of whether people of that religion supported the atrocities or not. This Writer has Muslim friends who were extremely distressed by the hatred shown to them.
And rightly so. Islamic State does not represent the Muslim faith, no matter what its title claims. This organisation is a gang of faithless bandits – no more, no less – who are trying to hijack an entire religion in order to create hatred and division among people beyond the borders of its own illegal caliphate.
Let’s put that in context: IS represents all of Islam to around the same degree as Zionists represent all of Judaism. Both groups have committed atrocities against others in the name of a wider religion – atrocities that the majority of the members of those religions don’t want.
As I stated on Twitter in the early hours of November 14, I’m not going to blame all of Islam for the actions of a few idiots.
And I’m not going to let anyone use Paris to justify the murder of Mohammed Emwazi – the man dubbed ‘Jihadi John’ by his colleagues in Islamic State.
The attack by US forces, approved by UK prime minister David Cameron, represents a lowering of standards. There was no justice to it – no attempt to make the man stand trial for his alleged crimes. It was state-sponsored murder of one of our own citizens – no more, no less.
In approving this raid, the British authorities have lost any claim to the moral high ground.
One more point. After the attack, France’s President Hollande promised “pitiless war” on the perpetrators. I was particularly struck by the response on Twitter from Chris Hayes of MSNBC. He wrote:
“Hollande’s pledge of ‘pitiless’ war is, I have no doubt, the kind of thing many people *want* to hear. But the US learned the hard way after 9/11 how hard it is to translate rhetoric, resolve and massive military advantage into actual security, peace or anything that resembles lasting and definitive ‘victory’.”
How true those words are.
America’s war on terror has been a crushing failure, not because of any military disadvantage but because of a lack of imagination. The terrorists were engaged on their own terms and simply turned military defeats into recruitment drives.
The message is clear: You don’t change people’s minds by killing their friends and families.
This is one reason Jeremy Corbyn is right to oppose the renewal of Trident; it is no deterrent against fanatics who want to attack the UK (just ask MI5) – and without knowing where they are based, where would the UK point its missiles?
No. The only effective response to this attack is intelligence. We all need to get smart.
And we can start by blaming the people responsible, rather than whoever they want us to.
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