Months before the Manchester attack, London mayor Sadiq Khan had called the threat of terrorism “part and parcel” of living in a big city. Many are appalled that the mayor is insensitive enough to make such a statement.
However, the context confirmed that he merely suggested that big cities must be prepared for any attacks that terrorists may be plotting.
While critics may have ignored his intended meaning, his statement is still problematic in that it shows a degree of resignation about terror as a new normal.
We must never accept this. We must counter the Islamist rhetoric and the ideology that informs it.
Large cities were mainly immune from such violence before al-Qaida and ISIS began their murderous campaigns. While terror may be a feature of current city life, the pre-9/11 era only confirms that it need not be.
Social media recruitment and networking have allowed the terrorist ideology that inspires such violence to spread. It has manifested itself in lone wolf attacks as well as more organized massacres, mainly linked to ISIS.
These senseless killings are totally misguided. The Islamist ideology that sparks them is based on skewed political narratives and a narrow, lethal theology that has no place in the modern world.
The sadness is beyond measure. This time the victims are children and young people. The youngest, Saffie Roussos, was only eight years old.
The bomb maker is still at large. It is a tall order to expect him to ponder the horror of his own and his dead accomplice’s actions.
However, I urge moderates and progressives to step up their efforts to reject the rhetoric and ideology — a lethal mix of politics, religion and victimhood narrative.
The Muslim mainstream does show some encouraging signs of reaching out. In Manchester, Muslim taxi drivers are reported to have turned off their meters to give free rides, and the city’s Muslims reportedly offered rooms to people. One Muslim group condemned the attack with the placard, ”Love for all, hatred for none.”
But as London’s mayor also said, everyone needs to be vigilant. “Our emergency services prepare day in, day out for these situations. Our plans are well rehearsed and well prepared. I would urge all Londoners and visitors to remain calm and vigilant, and to report anything suspicious to the police.”
The onus is squarely on moderate Muslims to heed the mayor’s last call. They must challenge the ideologies that inspire such violence at grassroots level. To prevent such attacks from happening in the future, the responsibility lies especially on the shoulders of older, moderate Muslims to detect any signs of potentially dangerous piety in more impressionable youth. A new asceticism, shown perhaps in a different attitude to women or even to music, may show the beginnings of radicalization.
It is up to Muslim leaders everywhere, including here in Canada, to do more than protest that terror is not Islamic. They must challenge the disaffection felt by some Muslims – an alienation strong enough to convince a tiny minority that they need to take murderous revenge. Every single mosque and pulpit has the responsibility to do this.
I must say this again. Canadian Muslim leaders like Liberal MP Iqra Khalid must unequivocally condemn Islamist terror before they campaign against negative sentiment toward Muslims. It’s a more pressing concern.