Terror attacks on Brussels

 

Sir, – The Irish Times view (Editorial, March 22nd) asserts that “our Government must explore ways in which we can not only express our sympathies to the Belgian people, but practical solidarity”. I agree.

As with the Paris attacks, Irish people are more than happy to put a flag over their Facebook profile picture and offer their thoughts and prayers to those directly affected by these heinous acts. Though this comes from a good place, it achieves little if we are not actively involved in ridding the world of the ideology that inspires these young men to commit mass murder.

Our policy of neutrality was meant for a different time and must be reassessed. We are in fact not “neutral” in the proper sense of the word.

Do we take a neutral stance on genocide and groups like Daesh? No, we rightly condemn them.

Ireland is very much a modern western democracy, and Tuesday’s attacks were not just attacks on Brussels but also on our shared European values.

In the year when we commemorate the centenary of an armed combat which led to the establishment of the State we now live in, we must not be so hypocritical as to suggest that any form of military intervention is not for us. Though our role would undoubtedly be a minor one, we have our allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and we should think seriously about joining them. – Yours, etc,

SIMON FOY,

Sutton, Dublin 13.

Sir, – While extending our sympathy and solidarity to the Belgian people after the horrific Brussels attacks, we must try to analyse why young men are willing to blow themselves up in crowds of people and why the world is now such a more dangerous place than after 9/11. As with the attacks in Paris last November, and indeed other terror attacks since then that have not witnessed the same level of media interest, surely it is necessary to break out of the vicious cycle of war, terrorism and more war and more terrorism in which we have become locked?

Grandiose statements, though well-intentioned, such as contained in your editorial that the attacks “represent an assault on all of Europe, on our values, on our allies and on our friends”, are disingenuous while homegrown Europeans plot these attacks and western governments deny their responsibility for the carnage of 14 years of war inflicted on the people of the Middle East

The “practical solidarity” hinted at in your editorial may best be served by stopping making wars in, and selling armaments to, the Middle East, radically to stepping up humanitarian efforts and sincerely to helping those refugees fleeing such conflicts.

Western governments need to invest in peacemaking instead of war-mongering. – Yours, etc,

JIM ROCHE,

Irish Anti-War Movement,

PO Box 9260, Dublin 1.

Sir, – The world has seen the Belgian capital rocked by a series of bomb attacks that targeted the airport and metro stations. Our deepest condolences go to the families of the victims at this time. This attack in Brussels comes in a week that also saw two attacks in the Turkish cities of Ankara and Istanbul that saw more than 40 people killed.

These attacks again reflect the reality that the perpetrators are indiscriminate in their actions and seek only to perpetuate fear and anxiety within communities.

It is important to keep in mind that the protection and sanctity of life applies to all in the eyes of God. Those who died in Turkey and Belgium and anywhere else in the world bled the same way and the families of the victims grieved the same way.

As religious leaders and members of the community, we say it is important to continue praying for the safety and security of all people and to work hand in hand to bring about a lasting change that sees the eradication of hate and violence in our world.

Too often we see that after atrocities, the backlash and blame falls on the wrong people, which feeds into and perpetuates the narrative of the extremists that perpetrate these crimes. It shouldn’t be that accusations and blame are put on refugees that are entering Europe. We cannot forget that those fleeing their homelands in Syria and beyond are escaping from the same terror that has struck Belgium and Turkey.

What also seems an unfortunate but inevitable outcome of terror attacks is the rise we see in anti-Muslim sentiment and Islamophobia. The likes of Daesh that commit such atrocities do so with a false allegiance to Islam and its core tenets. It should not be that the actions of a misguided few tarnish a whole community that continues to distance itself from such crime. The victims of these crimes are of both faith and no faith, showing that terror does not show loyalty to any one group of people but rather seeks to amplify feelings of fear and works to divide communities along religious and national lines.

As is always the case, it is our response in these situations which ultimately defines us as individuals and as a community.

We must remember that it is our humanity that separates us from those that seek to harm. Let us continue to mourn the loss of lives in our own way and continue to pray for those that have lost their lives in Belgium, Turkey and anywhere else in the world. – Yours, etc,

Sheikh

Dr UMAR AL-QADRI,

Chairman,

Irish Muslim Peace

and Integration Council,

Head Imam,

Al-Mustafa Islamic

Centre (Ireland);

Sheikh Dr ALI AL-SALEH,

Milltown Islamic Centre;

Imam IHAB AHMED,

Cork Mosque Foundation;

Sheikh KHALID,

Ballycoolin Mosque;

Imam HAFIZ KHALID,

Laois Muslim Community;

Imam HAFIZ SIDDIQ,

Athlone Islamic Centre;

Imam JAVED IQBAL,

Drogheda Muslim

Community.