Thursday, 23 May 2013

A note on the Woolwich murder.

On Facebook I posted the following points as a status after the hours of coverage of the attack in Woolwich and I stand by them today:
1. Your sympathy belongs with the victim and their family. It should go without saying that this is a horrible crime.
2. The perpetrators are not representatives of Islam, or immigration, they are murderous thugs and will go down for this. That's a good thing. We shouldn't let a pair of murderers change our society. No death penalty. No deportation. To be a civilised country means treating the worst people in a way which doesn't lower ourselves to their level.
3. Don't concede any ground to racists and/or neo-Nazis who are clambering over one another to exploit the death of another human being. The EDL have been quick to get down to Woolwich, they deserve no attention nor should we pretend they have any serious claim to comment on this crime.
4. This looks like a political act, if so then we have to talk about the real reasons for anger against Western governments from the Muslim world. A question that is much bigger . That means we have to address the wars that have waged in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the dictatorships that have been supported by Western governments for decades.
In the discussion that followed this post I was told that point 4 is in contradiction with the first points and that it constitutes a 'mitigation'. That's simply not the case as I was making a more subtle point than some can appreciate. The fourth point is the last of the points because I consider it to be the last of priorities under such extreme circumstances. It's a sorry fact about the world that there is no time for criticism of American and British foreign policy after the war in Iraq and the on-going occupation of Afghanistan. There isn't a causal link between the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the murder of Lee Rigby. It's plausible that there are people who could've killed even if these events hadn't taken place. But there is a sense in which certain foreign policy decisions fed the narrative of radical Islamism. That is the narrative and set of ideas the media describe as 'ideology'.

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