From Pakistan looking to hunt and ban blasphemy against Islam¹, to the BBC in Asia asking what the right punishment¹ for blasphemy should be (and only apologizing for the ‘provocative tweet¹‘ after outcry), this has been a week dominated by politics, religion and in small part, by French authorities wanting to shut down a ‘Doctors without borders’ refugee camp due to the unacceptable behavior¹ of the ‘refugees’. [London terror attack update]
- On the anniversary of the Brussels¹ Islamic terror attacks in 2016¹, London fell victim to an Islamic¹ terror attack of its own, an attack which killed 5¹ (later revised to 4¹, including one police officer and the attacker) and left over 40¹ injured. Some injuries have been described as ‘catastrophic¹‘. The attacker, using a rented car from Birmingham¹ (2.5 hours North West of London), drove through pedestrians on the Westminster bridge before crashing his car against railings outside the Houses of Parliament¹. The attacker then exited the car, attacked and killed a police officer with a knife and ran toward the Houses of Parliament before he was shot and killed by police¹. Parliament had been in session with Prime Minister Theresa May in the building. The attackers was identified as 52 year old Khalid Masood¹, a UK born muslim¹. London remained on alert¹ for a time afterwards. Overnight, armed police¹ raided an apartment in Birmingham in relation to the terror attack in London, with witnesses claiming there had been three arrests¹, police later confirmed 8 arrests¹ had been made.
Following the attack, cities¹ around the world¹ went on alert with increased police presence and increased public concern¹. London Mayor Sadiq Khan may believe it to be normal for cities to face terrorist attacks¹, but many in the West would beg to differ. Before the attack, tensions had already been high across Europe and Turkey, who had stated that a holy war was coming to Europe, and mere hours before the attack, Turkish President Erdogan had stated that so long as Europe does not give into his demands “no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets¹“. A series of photos capturing the aftermath of the attack and the attacker can be found in these media¹ publications¹ among others.
While people on social media once again pushed out flag filters and hashtags¹, and buildings¹ were illuminated with the colors of the British flag, ISIS supporters¹ on social media¹ were celebrating. Undoubtedly, the next attack will see social media profile picture flag filters and “PrayForX” hashtags again in demand.
If only there were a common thread between these Islamic terror attacks that could be used to prevent such Islamic terrorism in the future.
- The Syrian military has entered the news again, this time for firing missiles at four Israeli military jets (Syria claims to have shot one down though Israel denies¹ this) which had bombed targets within Syria¹. Israel had shot one of the anti-aircraft missiles down which targeted the IAF¹ jets with their Arrow 3¹ system. This is not the first time Israel has struck within Syria since the start of the civil war, as Israel has previous bombed a Syrian military airport¹ which was being used to fight against ISIS. Israel has since threatened to destroy¹ Syria’s air defense systems should they fire at Israeli war planes again. Israel again undertook operations¹ in Syria days after, though no damage or deaths were reported.
Syria and others¹ have previously claimed that Israel is actively aiding ISIS¹ due to the IAF flying over ISIS positions in order to bomb Syrian military targets. It’s a charge which Israel has denied, however it has admitted that it has supported ‘Syrian rebels¹‘ fighting against Assad knowing full well that these rebels include Al Nusra, Al Qaida¹ ISIS and other affiliates in an attempt to bring down the Syrian government* (PDF and further explanations found here¹). Recently however, it’s not only Israel and ‘rebels’ in Syria, but the U.S., as the Syrian government sees itself as being invaded¹ by U.S. forces who have no official permission to operate in the country. The U.S. has also been accused of indiscriminately bombing¹ civilians.
- Turkey again started a propaganda offensive against Europe, this time in part because Germany found no evidence¹ linking Gulen to the “coup” last year. Erdogan had claimed a journalist (who is a Turkish and German national) was a terrorist¹ and propagandist in a speech, the same journalist Germany had previously asked Turkey to release¹, as Erdogan continues to arrest journalists on similar charges¹. Germany had also asked Turkey to stop alleging¹ that Germany was using ‘Nazi measures¹‘ in regards to Turkish political rallies in the country, which Merkel has claimed she may ban¹ completely. Turkey has since claimed that the Nazi ‘jibes’ are done ‘out of friendly worry¹‘ for Germany. Austria may soon join this list of ‘fascist’ countries as authorities have banned Turkish concerts for fear they may be used for political purposes¹.
Erdogan cannot seem to make up his mind about fascism and Hitler. Despite calling multiple¹ countries¹ fascists and Nazis, he has also cited Nazi governance as an effective form¹ of government which ties in to his views of presidency¹. Turkey has also accused Europe of being ‘anti muslim¹‘ for a recent ruling which was partly blown out of proportion¹, giving employers the right to fire employees for wearing religious clothing¹ such as head scarves. Erdogan promised to open the flood gates and ‘shock’ Europe with 15,000¹ ‘refugees’ a month should Europe not comply with Erdogan’s wishes. Erdogan also called on Turkish families in Europe to have five children¹ each to outbreed Europeans as Turks are ‘Europe’s future¹‘. The latest round of attempted Turkish blackmail apparently moving Turkey ‘further away than ever¹‘ from ascension talks with the EU¹. A situation which many in and outside of Europe are wondering why such talks were ever on the table to begin with.
- France saw multiple issues this week, with one surprisingly under reported in the international press. On Friday March 17, a man was arrested¹ without incident after police found him praying next to the bodies of his father and brother. The murders¹** apparently took place after a family argument, though the killer was heard yelling “allah ackbar¹“. Despite claims the man was linked to radical Islamic terrorism, police ‘urged caution¹‘ in attributing a motive. Also in Paris, one of many frequent¹ bomb threats was called in, this time against the Paris financial court¹ which may be linked to a slate of mail bombs¹ from a Greek extreme anarchist group. Though the threat was taken as credible, no explosives¹ have been found.
In Paris’ Orly airport a ‘French born radicalized muslim’ named Ziyed Ben Belgacem¹ took a soldier hostage by pointing a realistic air pistol to the female soldier’s head. Belgacem attempted¹ to steal the soldier’s weapon¹ but was shot and killed by two other soldiers from the same patrol before he could use the weapon. The attempted terrorist¹ attacker had already been on a watch list and was known to police. Though the attempted terrorist¹ attacker stated clearly that “I’m here to die for Allah¹” and “there will be deaths¹“, some (including the would-be attacker’s father¹) have begun to question whether drugs and alcohol found in Belgacem’s system were part of the motivation¹ for the attempted attack. The attacker had opened fire earlier on police after being pulled over for speeding and had car-jacked¹ his way to the airport.
- A day after the attack on London, Belgium saw an attempted terrorist act¹ stopped before any physical damage could be done. 39 year old North African “Mohamed R.¹” who has French and Tunisian¹ nationality. ‘Mohamed R.’ tried to get around a military checkpoint in Antwerp¹ after driving through pedestrians on a pedestrian-only¹ shopping strip (all of whom managed to get out of the way). No injuries were reported. Although there has been a claim that ‘Mohamed R.’ was drunk¹, military uniforms, weapons and an unidentified liquid¹ were found in his car. A bomb disposal team¹ was also called to the scene. Currently, ‘Mohamed R.’ is the only one who has been arrested¹ over the incident.
- It was announced that Pope Francis will be heading to Egypt at the end of April to ‘show solidarity with Coptic Christians’ who are often the victims of violence¹. The Pope had previously in 2015 spoken out against the violence against Christians and the silence¹ shown by the media and world leaders when it came to attacks against Christians¹. Yet news often remains local, especially in the middle east¹ and Israel¹. or the victims are not identified as part of a group¹ despite calls for official recognition of genocide¹. The Pope himself has also been accused of ignoring the plight of Christians, as last year allegations arose that while the Vatican was taking in three muslim refugee families, others were left behind when it was learned they were Christian¹. In some places like France, attacks against Christians¹ have also been noted with little response. In a coincidence which may be unrelated, at the end of March, there will also be a meeting of theologians and canon lawyers to discuss the possibilities and manner of deposing a heretical Pope¹.
This has been week 12.
*PDF report without workable archive.
**Alternate language source.