When terrorists target children
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.