France is a wounded nation. In the past 18 months they’ve borne the brunt of Daesh’s attacks on European soil. If the latest act of terrorism in Nice last night is confirmed to be carried out by IS, or by someone sympathetic to IS, it marks the third such attack in that time.
The timing of the attack (coming on Bastille Day, the French equivalent of Independence Day) has to be deliberate. The aim is clear – Daesh are desperate to break French resolve, and drum up support for their cause, in the wake of French support for air strikes against them in Syria and Iraq. What Daesh don’t realise is that no one is inclined to cow to acts of cowardice like these, and if anything, it will harden French resolve.
At times like this, two things will happen. Firstly, there will be people who declare that Islam is the enemy – with no caveats applied to that statement. They will tell us Islam is a bloodthirsty religion, committed to our destruction, and that it’s a scourge that needs to be dealt with. That these statements (and worse, any action taken as a result) might actually drive moderate Muslims into the arms of radicals doesn’t seem to occur to those who make such comments.
Secondly, there will be Muslims who speak out against Daesh, and condemn their actions, but they will also try to distance themselves from Daesh and suggest they’re not really Muslims – this is understandable in a way (they don’t want to be associated with them), but it’s also dishonest. Ignoring what drives Daesh will not help to stop them.
It must also be pointed out that IS target other Muslims on an almost routine basis. 300 people were killed in terrorist attacks in Baghdad recently – this barely raises a flicker on the news. It’s in everyone’s interests to come together – and declare in one voice that Daesh is not going to succeed. Their hate-fuelled philosophy has no place in this world. We will stand together with our Muslim brothers and sisters, our Christian brothers and sisters, and indeed anyone and everyone who opposes them.