When ter­ror­ists tar­get chil­dren

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION - John Roe

The Is­lamic State’s war against the West has be­come a war against the West’s chil­dren. Chil­dren like Saffie Rose Rous­sos. The an­gel-faced eight-year-old — de­scribed by a teacher as “quiet and unas­sum­ing with a cre­ative flair” — was one of the first vic­tims to be iden­ti­fied af­ter Mon­day night’s sui­cide bomb­ing at a con­cert in Manch­ester, Eng­land.

Be­cause she loved the mu­sic of Amer­i­can pop singer Ari­ana Grande, this lit­tle girl, along with her sis­ter and mother, ea­gerly joined 21,000 other fans at Manch­ester Arena.

And be­cause of that in­no­cent love, this young in­no­cent with big brown eyes and a cheru­bic smile was slaugh­tered along with 21 oth­ers, many of whom were also chil­dren.

Even in a world that has been numbed by the depre­da­tions of Is­lamist ter­ror­ists who dis­tort the teach­ings of their faith as they in­dis­crim­i­nately mur­der oth­ers — in air­planes, tran­sit sys­tems, night­clubs, are­nas and re­sorts to name just a few tar­gets — the at­tack in Manch­ester on Manch­ester’s youth stands out as an act of pure evil.

Although po­lice have iden­ti­fied the dead sui­cide bomber as Sal­man Abedi, a Manch­ester res­i­dent of Libyan de­scent, they do not know if he was part of a larger con­spir­acy.

How­ever, the Is­lamic State has proudly claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack. And in do­ing so it ad­mit­ted it is will­ing to tar­get chil­dren and teenagers, Ari­ana Grande’s core fan base.

In the eyes of this ter­ror­ist group, th­ese were not young peo­ple who had harmed no one, they were the en­emy. How de­luded and depraved can you get?

The hearts of de­cent peo­ple around the world are now break­ing for those young peo­ple in Eng­land as well as the dev­as­tated fam­i­lies they leave be­hind.

Of the 59 con­cert­go­ers who were in­jured badly enough by shrap­nel to be hos­pi­tal­ized, at least 12 were chil­dren un­der 16. We are not ac­cus­tomed to hear­ing of so many young lives cut short or maimed in such a bru­tal and de­lib­er­ate way.

At­tend­ing a pop con­cert has be­come a rite of pas­sage for young peo­ple in Europe and North Amer­ica, one happy step on the path to adult­hood.

Now par­ents, and quite likely many teens and chil­dren, will pause and think twice about in­dulging in such events. That, of course, is what the ter­ror­ists in­tend. Un­able to stand up for long against Western armies — the Is­lamic State is be­ing beaten in Iraq — the Is­lamist ex­trem­ists wage a mer­ci­less, asym­met­ri­cal war­fare, us­ing ter­ror as a weapon to weaken and di­vide so­ci­eties. Most of their vic­tims, we should al­ways re­mem­ber, are Mus­lims in Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries.

But the ter­ror­ists will not win as long as our politi­cal lead­ers re­main ded­i­cated to pro­tect­ing the lives of their cit­i­zens and ag­gres­sively pur­sue the ter­ror­ists when­ever they can.

Nor will the ex­trem­ists ever claim vic­tory as long as or­di­nary cit­i­zens in mul­ti­cul­tural coun­tries such as Bri­tain, Canada and Amer­ica refuse to suc­cumb to the fear or ha­tred of oth­ers that the ter­ror­ists wish to in­spire.

Who­ever doubts this should think of Saffie Rose Rous­sos, how she died and how im­por­tant it is to re­sist what killed her.

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