Belfast Telegraph

Those who attack all we hold dear will never cow us

Editor's viewpoint

It is difficult to comprehend the sheer horror of the Manchester bombing which killed 22 innocent people and left 59 others injured, some of them very seriously.

What is particularly disturbing is the age of many of the victims, including children and young people.

This creates a feeling of overwhelming sadness, which is further deepened by the context of this brutal attack on so many young people enjoying the freedom of a night out at a concert.

Terrorism in any form is despicable.

But an attack of this nature is totally barbaric, cowardly, and without even a shred of humanity for the lives of others so cruelly murdered and maimed.

This particular kind of terrorism which picks out soft targets and slaughters innocent people has become a bogeyman, like a dark shadow that hangs over the 21st century.

It looms monstrously large in the imagination, and creates a murder zone out of the most innocuous places and events.

People are mown down by vehicles at Christmas markets in Berlin, or by the sea in Nice.

Journalists are murdered in Paris, an elderly French priest has his throat cut and bleeds to death in his church, concert-goers in Paris are mown down, and now young people are slaughtered in the carnage of Manchester.

The adherents of this extreme brand of Islam hate the values we hold dear, including freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, our cultural and social mores, and the freedom of association and plurality.

This is not only an attack on innocent people in Manchester, it is also an attack on the Western way of life that we cherish.

However, these extremists cannot and will not win.

As we know only too well in this small corner of the world where we have experienced our own unspeakable traumas and blood-letting, the human spirit and the will of the greater number of people not to be cowed will always defeat those micro-groups who lack a mandate, and who carry out such cowardly attacks on the defenceless and the innocent.

In the light of this, the crass comments of the Northern Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill, and of other senior Sinn Fein members, will leave all objective and fair-minded people speechless.

It is not so long ago that the Provisional IRA, of which her party is the political wing, targeted English towns and cities, including London and badly damaging Manchester itself.

It must be emphasised that just as the vicious Provisional IRA campaign failed, so too will that of ISIS.

Last night as the horrifying events unfolded in Manchester, and the scale of suffering and grief became apparent, there was a separate discourse on social media.

It was one of Manchester people offering beds for the night or the use of phones, or providing tea and comfort.

There were the women who shepherded large groups of children into the safety of hotels.

There were also the messages of thanks expressed to the emergency services who walked into the unknown dangers of a building from which all others were fleeing.

In the midst of those darkest moments, this was a picture of a sturdy society taking care of itself, and this undoubtedly is the spirit that will not allow the terrorists to win.

Belfast Telegraph

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