The Spectator

No concessions

It is impossible to know what leads an individual to embrace the pointless killing of himself and others

The bombs in London last week killed people of all races and religions indiscriminately — as of course they were intended to. The terrorists who planted them were not interested in distinguishing between kinds of people: they simply wanted to kill as many of us as possible. The police now believe that the killers were suicide bombers who found fulfilment in blowing themselves up on the London Underground. The murderers were Britons born and bred. They were raised and educated in West Yorkshire.

The revelation that the murderers did not come in from abroad has understandably prompted people to ask: what has gone wrong with our society that it is capable of producing such monsters? That question will never receive a satisfactory answer. It is impossible to know what leads an individual to embrace the pointless killing of himself and others. There is no ‘social’ or societal explanation of that fatal choice, and the putative ‘social’ explanations are all obviously false. There is, for example, no straight line between deprivation, ‘social exclusion’, Islam and terrorism, any more than there is a straight line between poverty and crime. Most poor people are not criminals, and most deprived, excluded Muslims are repelled by terrorism. It is worth repeating that the vast majority of Muslims practise their faith without ever coming to believe that terrorism is justified, or to the conclusion that British society needs to be destroyed and replaced by an Islamic theocracy.

The reality has also to be faced, however, that there is a small minority who do believe that Islam provides a justification for mass murder, and who are prepared to kill innocent men, women and children in the name of their religion. The four suicide bombers from West Yorkshire belonged to that group.

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