A Continent in Turmoil

A World of Terror and Carnage

I was at home on Saturday evening when the news of the London attacks came charging into my living room via the BBC app and Sky News. The same incredulous reaction that occurred after the Manchester attacks and the Paris attacks was evident but it seems to me that we are getting used to these news events and that is becoming commonplace.

The scary thing for me about the London attack is how amateur and unprofessional these attacks have become. Terrorist attacks used to be a skilled operation, a precise use of tools and a time sensitive situation. All of these traits made it possible to intercept the attacks, but this latest attack is impossible to stop.

During the troubles in Northern Ireland, an IRA bomber had to be a skilled operator, he had to acquire tools or ammunition and he tried to stay alive. Today, anyone with a motorised vehicle can carry out a terrorist attack and the fact that they are willing to die makes the situation even harder to control.

As someone who enjoys holidaying in cities around Europe, it is a worrying trend that Islamic terrorists are targeting our major cities for their attacks. The suppression of our freedom is one of their goals and while we do not want to give in to their demands, it is hard not to be a little apprehensive about foreign travel when you watch the news on a regular basis.

Theresa May has said that ‘enough is enough,’ which I can only assume means that there will be a crackdown on Islamic extremism, which could provide as many problems as it does solutions. The British Government initiated ‘internment without trial’ in Northern Ireland in the seventies, which was an unmitigated disaster and one of the catalysts for the explosion in IRA membership levels in that decade. Many Catholics with no links to the IRA were rounded up and jailed without trial. This led to a whole generation of young Catholic men in the six counties becoming further radicalised and assuming positions of power within the IRA.

History could repeat itself if May decides to round up all those who show even tenuous links towards Islamic extremism and find themselves in prison, which would further fuel the hatred towards Britain and its citizens.

May is in a catch 22 situation. She has to be seen to be doing something in the fight against extremism but she knows that action for action’s sake could end up igniting the problem further. With the General Election on Thursday and Brexit looming, these are worrying times for the British people, who have not had to live in the shadow of terrorism for almost two decades.

As an Irishman, who has spent time living in London, I have immense sympathy for members of the Islamic community, who are as offended by the actions of these vile monsters as the rest of us. Irish people will understand the looks of suspicion when they opened their mouths in shops and bars in London in the seventies and eighties and it is the same look of suspicion that members of the Muslim faith will face daily, as the cloud of fear descends on London, Manchester and the other cities throughout Britain.

It is a worrying time for all Europeans, but we must not give in to the power of fear. We must try to overcome the fear with the freedom we enjoy and promote the values of respect, equality and fairness to all citizens.

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