At 22:33 on Monday 22 May, 2017 Ariana Grande had just finished a concert at the Manchester Arena, when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the foyer outside. Salman Abedi, was the bomber; he was born in Manchester after his parents settled in the UK as Libyan refugees. He had turned against the country that had given him a chance of life. I decided to wait a few days to write this, not to chronicle events, but to echo the effect sthis event has on the world, and how people have reacted. You see, I was around when 7/7 happened as I was living in London, and now this atrocity has occurred on my doorstep.
As a teenager, my Saturdays were spent shopping in Manchester, as it was cool and trendy. People in the north are renowned for being down to earth and for supporting one another, and if anything this has shown this is still the case. People gave shelter to those stranded after the explosion, taxi drivers took people home, hotels opened up their doors and fed those who were lost and frightened. What struck me about this attack were the victims, and it made me angry; parents who went to pick up their children from the concert, an aunt who died shielding her niece, and the youngest victim, an eight year old who died screaming for her mother. These were innocent people doing normal things.
Currently 22 people have died and more than 100 have been wounded, some with life threatening injuries. While the police and other agencies search for the terrorist network, their efforts have been thwarted by the arrogance of some of the US media who revealed information that the police were withholding in an effort not to alert other members of the network. The New York Times printed a photo of the remnants of the bomb, and another US station revealed the name of the suspect; maybe they have hindered the investigation or inadvertently warned others who may have gone underground. Either way, they cannot defend their actions as being in the public interest.
Some may draw comparisons with the leaks in the cabinet of #45, but leaks over a cover up are very different from an active crime scene. You simply cannot compare the two, especially when lives are in danger. Since writing this, the UK had declared it had stopped sharing intelligence with the USA in light of the events, but less than 24 hours later resumed the reciprocal action of sharing information after being reassured leaks would not happen again. How can they justify releasing photos when the names of all the victims hadn’t been named (they were only all named on Friday 26 May, whereas the USA media printed the photos on Wednesday).
I don’t feel we as humans should accept terrorism, but then who do we blame (if anyone) and can it ever be stopped? Prevention is better than cure—some politicians blame the government for cuts in policing, but could that have stopped this attack? Probably not, because it requires someone who is in the Muslim community to actively witness radicalization or to have suspicions. It’s still very raw, and there are calls not to blame the Muslim community, but surely they bear some responsibility if they had concerns. Why didn’t they act on them, or is that being politically correct?
The threat level has been raised to ‘critical’ in the UK and I don’t think it scares people, but indicates that another attack will happen. That means people need to be vigilant and to report concerns, because it could save lives. This has marred Manchester, the surrounding areas, and the UK. Do people blame immigration, or the fact that some refugees or asylum seekers turn against their host country? Many don’t even wish to learn the language or adapt their lives, so should they have rights, such as citizenship? Should it be revoked if they are involved in terrorist activities?
I heard on one report, the concert was targeted as Muslims disapprove of such events where people enjoy themselves, so what do Muslims approve of? The simple fact is that the UK is not a Muslim country, and if Muslims wish to live in a country with Muslim laws then they should move to one. They do not have any right to enforce their beliefs on others.
Right now, while the country is in the midst of a general election, the government is balancing controlling the situation and campaigning. I read with disgust someone who implied Theresa May implemented the ‘critical’ threat level to detract from the social care policy, which has caused many to be concerned. Obviously they have no idea that the Prime Minister doesn’t decide, but JCTTAT (Joint Counter Terrorism Training and Advisory Team ) decides and she enacts it formally. When people make loose statements with no validation it feed sinto the frenzy of fake news that people choose to believe. I doubt the person will retract, even if another attack occurs, but will instead lay blame that cuts were made to the police force. You can have all the police possible, but terrorists lay low, and hide. It is claimed the used a rental property to hide out, just as spies used hotel rooms. These leave little trace and allow for privacy to well, get up to no good.
Where does one draw the line? Should we as a society be suspicious of all to protect ourselves? Humanity has reacted in a number of ways, most have helped the community and supported one another, and others have taken advantage. Those who leaked the confidential information did it for ego—arrogant actions costs lives. Others have set up fake fundraiser accounts claiming their family member has been a victim, and of course is abhorrent. Tragedy brings out the good and bad in people.
The Queen visited the injured in hospital and say what you will about the Royal Family, the Queen works hard and she provided comfort and support to the families. Manchester will need time to heal, but it is still on alert as more arrests are being made, and my hope is those who do know something will have a conscience and come forward. I do have faith in the police and the agencies involved, and once the UK regains the power over its own domestic laws (Brexit), it may help make the UK a safer place to live in.
Terrorism isn’t solely about religion; it’s about culture, democracy, liberty, freedom of speech, and morality. The extremists oppose many of the things society and humanity have developed over the centuries—if they choose to live by their rules and beliefs, they have that right, but not to kill others, or to force the rest of humanity to live by their rules. It will be hard for people not to get suspicious of someone wearing a burka, people who carry large backpacks, who wear coats during summer, or hearing people speaking Arabic in a public place.
In order for people to trust the Muslim community, they need to show that they are on the side of humanity. Words and statements are one thing, but actual action is another. They have the power to do more, and have a responsibility to do so, yet political correctness prevails—sadly society is divided, but united in grief. How many more attacks will it take before those who could have prevented it do something?
We must carry on, but that doesn’t mean it will be easy, nor should we forget those who were murdered in this attack. The darkness that hovers over the world at present seems to grow thicker, yet we as humans have that power to stop it. There is no one to blame except those who choose to commit these atrocious acts; the internet is a choice; they don’t have to switch it on and watch videos, and they don’t have to listen to people. Yes, some maybe gullible, but that’s when laws need to be in place to protect them. Can you control or even understand radicalization? Even so, humans know killing others is fundamentally wrong and illegal, and that is something all the terrorists know. No one is to blame except for them and their conscious actions. People make bad choices that affect and destroy the lives of others, and what for? That is the question.