Terrorists have struck again.
Earlyyesterday in St Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy, France, two terrorists armed with knives entered a church, murdered the elderly priest F, Jacques Hamel, by cutting his throat and taking hostages. This is what martyrdom looks like.
The terrorists were later shot by police. President Francois Hollande has described the attack as cowardly assassination, and has blamed Islamic State for the attack.
Now for the hard questions. Why are they killing so many. The answer is because they can. Really. If you were to ask the opposite question of why are they not killing more people. The answer is because they can’t, they are killing as many as they can, they are not killing more because they are at full stretch. There are very few of them.
Sorry is doing a risk assessment on people being killed. But it is important for what we do to combat the terrorists and the people doing copycat killings. If we do nothing they will carry on at the same level, and that is unacceptable. If we clamp down to heavily things could get a whole lot worse. If a community is ostracised it will become a recruiting ground. More people will mean more attacks.
Look at the recruitment surge for Provisional IRA following Bloody Sunday in Northern Ireland in January 1972. If a part of the community is ostracised it becomes the target for those who promise an alternative.
Which brings me to my last question. Why are there so many more attacks by Islamic State in France compared to the UK? In the last 18 months 236 have been killed. On the one hand the French has a much larger Islamic community than the UK (source), but France was not one of the countries involved in the 2003 Iraq invasion (USA and UK with ground troops from Australia and Poland and naval support from Spain and Denmark). As France was not involved why is she bearing the brunt?
Integration has to be the key. The UK has an Islamic community that is far better integrated into society than France, although we could do a lot better. Let the various communities know that they are appreciated, find out what is happening before venting on social media. I have read that the Islamic communities are doing nothing (That’s Twitter for you, one idiot says something false and hundreds share it). But they are doing something they are writing to politicians, they are demonstrating on the streets. Islamic State are not listening to them, but they are killing then as well, as reports on the Massacre in Nice earlier this month show.
Let us stand together with them. Islamic State does not represent the teachings of Islam any more than the Provisional IRA represented the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. They are terrorists who do not care who they hurt.
And pray for France. And weep with France.