Tuesday, July 26, 2016

ISIS murders a priest in France, wounds one other before being killed by French police.

A police officer reacts to the situation as he guards the scene of the crime. Reuters. 

Two ISIS attackers killed a priest and wounds one other during a hostage situation at a French Church in Normandy. Reuters. The priest, Father Jacques Hamel, was in his mid-eighties and had his throat slit during the Tuesday morning mass. Five people were held hostage by the two terrorists. France's elite anti-crime unit, the BRI, killed both of the attackers as they left the church. The attack comes on the heels of several attacks throughout Europe related to ISIS. ISIS has called on it's supporters to conduct these kinds of attacks and many of them have been successful. 

My Comment:
I'm not Catholic. Hell, I'm not very religious at all. But this attack makes my blood boil. This was an attack on the faith of millions of people, not just the murder of one man and the wounding of another person. ISIS sent a very direct message to Christians everywhere. You are not safe. You are a target because of your faith. Though anyone in Europe could be a victim, this attack shows that ISIS is targeting Christians specifically and because of their faith.
In theory, Islam is required to allow Christians (and Jews) their faith, if they pay a religious tax. Indeed, ISIS imposed the tax on Christians in Iraq and Syria. Those that did not submit were given the choice to either flee or die. Though more tolerate to Christians then they are to other religions, Christianity is seen as only a step or two better then pagan faiths to ISIS. 

But this kind of attack is nothing new. ISIS, and their Nigerian affiliate Boko Haram, have been leading genocidal campaigns against Christians and other faiths since their inception. Thousands of Christians have been killed by Muslims in recent history, so in a way this attack isn't unprecedented. It's just part of a larger pattern of the criminally under-reported attacks on Christians worldwide. 

What is new is the attack happened in Europe. As far as I am aware, I don't think there have been any attacks specifically targeting Christians in Europe in recent memory. That hasn't been the case for Jews, of course, who have faced an increase of antisemitism and several terror attacks, including  one in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks carried out by ISIS. Jews have even had to have had police guarding synagogues due to the threat level. Now it seems that churches may have the same fate... 

I'm no expert on religion, but it seems to me that Father Hamel was a martyr for his faith. He died for his beliefs, and my guess is he accepted his fate. Though martyrdom still happens throughout the world, it just seems insane to me that in 2016 it is happening in Europe. Murdering people because of their faith is one of the ultimate taboos in Europe. Especially after World War II. 

The pace of ISIS attacks is utterly horrifying right now. It's gone from monthly attacks to weekly and now is bordering on daily. It's to the point where it is hard to keep track of them all. For me it seems like the Nice attacks, which happened just 2 weeks ago have been overshadowed by the huge number of terror attacks since then. By my count it's at least five attacks since then, though the connection to ISIS isn't clear in one case and almost certainly isn't there in another. The death toll has been small but at this point does that even matter? 

Sooner or later people aren't going to tolerate it anymore. I would not be surprised that next years election in France ends up with Francois Hollande out of a job. And it's even possible that France could start to see revenge attacks from non-Muslims sick and tired of the violence. And, as unimaginable as it seems, there is even a possibility of civil war. If the government can't protect the people, then what use is the government? People have to be thinking that right now, and taken to it's logical conclusion... well no good comes from that.

Right now France and the other governments of Europe aren't protecting their people from the threat of Islamic violence. Sure, they have broken up terror rings and arrested scores of terrorists, but more are slipping through their cracks. Remember, the authorities have to be right every single time,  but the terrorists only have to be right once. With so many lone wolfs and terror cells active in France right now, it's impossible to catch them all. Drastic measures would need to be taken and even then it might not work in the end. And I don't think France would be willing to deal with the backlash for doing what would have to be done to end these attacks once and for all. Mass arrests and deportations of anyone suspected of terrorist ties would do the trick but would be a human rights nightmare and would likely be illegal. 

ISIS has really stepped up their game when it comes to terrorism. We are seeing some of the most creative attacks in history when it comes to terrorism. ISIS knows not to do something stupid that probably wouldn't work, like hijacking a plane and flying it into the Eiffel Tower. Instead they are doing these low scale attacks with one or two attackers that may not cause the casualties that the al-Qaeda style ones do, but are extremely effective at spreading terror and fear. And they are doing in low-tech, hard to prevent ways. 

How do you stop a man from renting a truck and driving it into a crowd? Or making his own bomb and blowing himself up? Or in this case walking into a church and cutting the throat of the priest during mass? Short of arming everyone in the country, including the priests, I don't think you can and even then armed citizens can only do so much. There are just too many soft targets, too few police and too many terrorists in Europe right now to stop these attacks. 

What is needed is to combat the ideology of ISIS and that seems to have completely fallen flat on it's face. The only real criticism I read for the ideology of ISIS is from a "no true Scotsman" approach. After all, Islam is a "religion of peace", according to West. Regardless if that is true or not, and I would argue against it, how is calling ISIS a bunch of fake Muslims going to convince people not to do these sort of things? These people are sure their religion is correct and are willing to kill for it. That needs to change, but how do you do it?

I think what is needed is an honest attempt at a reform movement in Islam. They need a Martin Luther writing a Muslim 95 Theses and a newer, more moderate form of Islam needs to be formed. Sure there are moderate Muslims now, but ISIS is simply disregarding their authority when it comes to faith. I almost think that Muslims need the equivalent to the New Testament, or perhaps even the Book of Mormon, to get their religion sorted out and to purge the religious inspiration for these attacks from their faith. Could it happen? Of course. Am I expecting it? Not really... 

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