Terror in Manchester: Seeking an Alternative Commentary
As Britain counts the cost after its most recent terrorist attack, which killed 22 (including children) and injured over 50 in Manchester, commentators are seeking to identify motivations behind the attack. Some people are again asking a "why" question much discussed in recent years: why do they hate us? What have we done to bring on such appalling attacks, even on our children?1
The pattern is familiar: a young Muslim suicide bomber, born in the very society he attacked, associated with a mosque of questionable affiliations, inspired by international radical ideologies, with probable support from a network of colleagues. Many commentators will say he must have been driven by a sense of frustration caused by marginalization of Muslims in British society.2
Yet an entirely different kind of commentary is called for in these times of crisis, one that acknowledges the growing specter of radical Islamic terrorism Such a commentary would consider, first, why Islamic ideology continues to produce young jihad warriors convinced that by slaughtering civilians en masse they will earn passage to paradise.
The answer is found in the very texts of Islam and the example of its founder Muhammad, father of the doctrine of jihad. In his early covenant with the tribes of his adoptive city of Medina, Muhammed articulated a stark distinction between Muslims and non-Muslims, producing a toxic "us versus them" division. Furthermore, Muhammad used warfare to achieve his ends. His actions suggested future generations of Muslims should pursue the goals of Islam with all means and at all costs.
Second, an alternative commentary must include critical scrutiny of western multiculturalism. For two generations, most western societies have encouraged separation of ethnic groups, preservation of ethnic and cultural identity, and effective Balkanisation of nations. While preserving positive aspects of culture has its place, this approach has been counter-productive with Muslim minority communities. This is because Islam is far more than a religious faith; it is an alternative system of law, economic organization, social structuring, and political thinking. Indeed, the type of multiculturalism many nations encourage has catalyzed Islam's emergence as a rival to the essential fabric of western societies. The solution is to radically rethink immigration policy in western countries, so that future policy emphasizes social integration and cohesion rather than fragmentation and separation.
Our alternative commentary must also consider the role of the myriad Muslims who are not radicalized. On the one hand, such Muslims have been falsely accused of remaining silent amid the rise of radical activity in the West. This is far from true. Many moderate Muslims have spoken out forcefully against radical Islamists, describing them as extremists and as having no place within the body of Islam.3 However, moderate Muslims have been deafeningly silent about the role of Muhammad and the sacred texts of Islam in sustaining radical Islamic ideologies. The vast masses of peaceful Muslims must tackle the hardest question of all: the connection between today's radicals and the prophet.
Radical Islam is the fascism of the 21st century. Like the fascism of the 1930s, it must be confronted, combated, and defeated. Time is short.
Luke Morgan Britton, "Queen's Brian May Reacts to Manchester Terror Attack: Why Does the World Hate Us that Much?" New Musical Express, May 23, 2017, http://www.nme.com/news/music/brian-may-manchester-terror-attack-2076686 (accessed May, 25, 2017).
See, for example, Afua Hirsch, "The Root Cause of Extremism Among British Muslims Is Alienation," The Guardian, September 19, 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/sep/19/british-muslims-driven-to-extremism-alienated-at-home (accessed May 25, 2017).
See, for example, Mohammed Amin, "As a Muslim, Briton and Mancunian, I Believe that Defeating Terror Requires Us to Stay United," Conservative Home, May 24, 2017, http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2017/05/mohammed-amin-defeating-isis-requires-britons-to-stay-united.html (accessed May 25, 2017).