I just read a report in The Guardian on a recent suicide bombing in the town of Beiji just north of Baghdad. The perpetrator was Kabir Ahmed, a British citizen from Derby - where I'm also from. The report details the impact: "The blast killed Lieutenant General Faisal Malik Zamel, who was inspecting forces in the town, and seven other police officers, while wounding 15 people, hospital staff and police officers." It wasn't all too surprising. I often wonder about the extent of alienation in the British Muslim community.
At the same time, there were car bombs in Baghdad and Ramadi which killed 12 people. So we should remain aware that we are only interested in a British death and its significance. We are always overly fixated on our own, even if we count our own among the enemy. I can't help but feel the need to comment when I read of the bombing. It reminds me of the Tel Aviv bomber Omar Sharif, who went to Bemrose as I did, albeit years earlier, and lived in Normanton - the city's Asian district, known in racist terms as a 'ghetto'. My mum recalls the area being described as the Black Hole of Calcutta and my own memory is littered with instances of racial tensions between white and Asian people. My first encounter with racism was in the playground of Becket.
I do wonder about the role of such communal tensions in the radicalisation of young British Muslims. From what I've seen I suspect disaffection with British society plays a role, but it's not a matter of a clash of cultures. There are a wide array of factors I would take into account. The English North and the Midlands have suffered economic deprivation for more than three decades now. On top of that there is the element of racism, as well as political disillusionment (which is also behind the rise of the Far-Right in the UK too) and a shift towards anti-politics. Religion stands as an alternative under such conditions. It's an identity-marker and it holds out hope of salvation by transcendence of the present situation. Tragically, it won't be taken seriously...
This latest incident comes after the US confirmed a series of air strikes against the Islamic State leadership. The US has been engaged against Syrian targets for quite some time now and its campaign in Iraq has found allies in Europe more than willing to join them. So far it seems that these airstrikes can be regarded as part of US efforts to maintain regional instability and, by extension, keep its hand on the global oil spigot.