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May 25 2017

Straddling Two Worlds? Not Really

by Charlotte Hays

A news report in this morning's Wall Street Journal describes Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi as a man who grew up "in a world that straddled middle-class Britain and the Libya of his parents."

Some straddling: the Abedis were back and forth from Libya,  where young Salman fought alongside his father in a militia. In Manchester, the family "didn’t mix much with others. On Fridays, they could be seen walking out of their house in traditional Muslim dress to attend a mosque in a converted church nearby."

Like I said: some straddling.

We in the West believe that families have a right to go unmolested to their mosques, churches, synagogues, or ashrams. That's not my point. My point is that we are often determined to overlook threats.

Why is it so important for us to believe that Salman Abedi was straddling two worlds and that it could have gone either way?  Why do we pretend that people are assimilating when that is the last thing on their minds?

I was interested in Salman Abedi's sister characterization of her brother:

Abedi’s sister, Jomana Abedi, said her brother was kind and loving and that she was surprised by what he did this week. She said she thought he was driven by what he saw as injustices.

“I think he saw children—Muslim children—dying everywhere, and wanted revenge. He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and he wanted revenge,” she said. “Whether he got that is between him and God.”

No. It  is not just between him and his God. It is between him and the law and the people he killed and maimed. It is between him and modernity, between modernity and pre-modernity.   

But maybe--just maybe--Salman Abedi picked the wrong week to murder innocents. As Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal writes: 

Post-9/11, naturally one expects [the expressions by European leaders that they will stand against terror] to erode like sand castles. But this time, by coincidence, alleged Manchester bomber Salman Abedi murdered concertgoers in the same week Donald Trump was using his first overseas trip to build a coalition to defeat Islamic State.

This was not a routine presidential foreign trip for self-pomp and circumstance. Mr. Trump went to Saudi Arabia to initiate an anti-ISIS policy designed and midwifed by three Trump appointees and Middle East specialists—Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

The policy entails the U.S. sale over 10 years to Saudi Arabia of $450 billion of military equipment—tanks, ships, precision-guided bombs—in return for Saudi leadership of an Arab-state coalition, which is their idea, to fight Islamic terrorists in the region and thwart Iran’s territorial ambitions.

A New York Times online summary of the speech Mr. Trump delivered Sunday in Riyadh called it “a speech about Islam.” I thought it was about something larger than that.

For instance, the Times and Washington Post ran stories about how the Trump foreign policy has demoted human-rights issues. It has not. Implicit in the Trump-Tillerson formulation is that defining the abuse of human rights as oppression by governments, such as Saudi Arabia’s, is too narrow. Now, any discourse over human rights must include the right not to have one’s life ended by acts of organized terrorism.

Donald Trump is not a subtle man, and this may be the best thing we have going for us right now. 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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