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Omagh bomb boy's dad says Islam has 'lot to answer for'

Muslim Council of Britain condemns Manchester attack

By Sue Doherty

Victor Barker, whose 12-year-old son James was killed in the Omagh bomb, has spoken out following the Manchester Arena attack.

He was speaking on Wednesday morning on BBC Radio Ulster in response to the deaths of 22 people, many of them children and teens, in Monday night's bomb at the Manchester Arena.

Mr Barker said the terrorist attack "brings back the horror the 15th and 16th of August 1998 very much, to many of the families, I think, who have either lost children or family members or suffered horrific injuries in the Omagh bomb."

Recalling the hours between learning that a bomb had gone off in Omagh and finding out his son had died, he said: "Whenever I do have a nightmare, it's normally about those two days and the mere shock of knowing, when I got to the leisure centre, that I was asked immediately to identify James, what his hair colour was, whether he had any identifying body features.

"At that moment, I knew, really suspected, that he was no longer with us. But we didn't actuallly find out until much later when we were taken to the temporary mortuary.

"Those few hours were just unbelievably difficult for everybody that was involved.

"I think it must be horrendous for parents that have children that have gone to the concert who weren't there and that have had to find the news out subsequently because it is such a shock and it is totally unexpected. "

Coping, he continued, ""is not a word I would really use. You have to deal with the situation as best you can. "

He did this by simply remembering the good things about James and his life and the times we had together.

No forgiveness

When asked if he could ever forgive his son's killers, Mr Barker replied: "Probably not. I don't think any human being has the right to take any other human being's life in the way that this was done, certainly in the way it was done in Manchester.

"I think you have to learn to accept that people have a very different perspective of what is right and wrong in these situations.

"And I suspect that this poor man has been brainwashed to a degree that he cannot differentiate between right and wrong.

"I think Islam has got to sit up and really look very, very carefully at the way these people are indoctrinated, and particularly in those Imams and mosques where they know people are being manipulated.

"They should stand up and deal with it.

"I think they have a lot to answer for.

Following the attack on Manchester Arena on Monday night, Harun Khan, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that attack was horrific and criminal, and he called for the perpetrators to "face the full weight of justice in this life and the next".

He said: “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. I understand teenagers and children have been caught up in what the police has confirmed to be a terrorist attack. This is horrific, this is criminal. May the perpetrators face the full weight of justice both in this life and the next.

"I pay tribute to the police and emergency services who have worked valiantly to save lives last night. They were helped by civilians who rushed into offer their support. I urge all those in the region and around the country to pool together to support those affected.”

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