Here we are again. According to the analysis of the newly elected Mayor of Manchester, Andy Burnham, the Manchester suicide bomber "was a terrorist, not a Muslim" -- despite all evidence to the contrary. After yet another mass casualty terrorist attack, elected leaders seems unable to attribute any of these attacks to the supremacist ideology that caused it: radical Islam.
At what point does an individual cease to be a Muslim and start to become a terrorist? Is there a definitive moment? Why can an individual not be a Muslim and a terrorist. Especially if that individual says he is?
Or is this just a racism of lowered expectations?
Refusing to name the problem also takes power away from Muslim reformers who are seeking to remove violence and bigotry from Islam, as well as other religious demands under which they would prefer not live -- such as the lack of free speech, lack of separation of powers, subjugation of women and death penalty for apostasy.
Also, how come no one makes a distinction between religion and violence with any other faith? During the Inquisition, no one would ever claim that Torquemada was not a Christian. Why should this distinction apply only to radical Islam?
Perhaps it is just easier to put short-term political futures ahead of national security, and short term political gains ahead of addressing harsh political truths. That attitude only imperils the rights and Judeo-Christian values we may prefer to keep.
No one wants to blame the entire Islamic community for the actions of a few of its members -- just as all Germans were not Nazis -- but why can one not call Islamic terrorism exactly that and still emphasize that not all Muslims are terrorists?
Many would have it that in the wake of massive bombings and other terrorist attacks -- from America's 9/11, to London's 7/7, multiple attacks in Paris, Nice, Toulouse, Berlin, Westminster, Copenhagen, Brussels, Orlando, Manchester, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and so on -- that the major crime is "Islamophobia" and not the attacks themselves. Worse, the silence of so many Muslims in the wake of those attacks does not help to dispel an impression of indifference. "Qui tacet consentit": He who is silent consents.
Britain's leader of the Labour Party opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, stated the attacks were the fault of the West:
"Many experts... have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home. An informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, that fights rather than fuels terrorism."
So, the conquests of Persia, the Byzantine Empire, the Middle East, North Africa, Greece, northern Cyprus, Spain and most of Eastern Europe do not count? Only our wars count? Who is doing the counting?
What "foreign intervention" prompted the fatwa of a multi-million dollar bounty on the head of Salman Rushdie for writing a novel? What "foreign intervention" provoked bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania before 9/11? What "foreign policy" prompted the bombing of a Yemeni hotel in 1992? What prompts Islamists to kill thousands of fellow Muslims and Yazidis -- what offence did their foreign policy commit?
While Corbyn seems to be saying that Britain's foreign policy is the reason the United Kingdom is being targeted by Islamists, this view seems to be at odds with what the Islamists themselves have said. The Islamic State's propaganda magazine, Dabiq explained, perfectly clearly:
"The fact is, even if you were to stop bombing us, imprisoning us, torturing us, vilifying us, and usurping our lands, we would continue to hate you because our primary reason for hating you will not cease to exist until you embrace Islam."
That is pretty succinct. Who might know better what Islamists think, Corbyn or Islamists? Our foreign policy is not the problem; our values are. We are seen, it seems, as degenerate, gender-unsegregated, music-loving, idolators. Western nations and their citizens refuse to become Muslim, accept Allah and bow to the demands of Islamic law, sharia. End of story.
As long as Western nations remain man-made democracies and not divinely-made Islamic States, these nations will be the major target for Islamists.
There seem to be two choices: either become more like Islamists, adopt sharia, and continue not to address the coercion out of fear that we might be further attacked -- we will be anyway -- or to confront the threat, now, before it becomes larger and costlier to contain, in lives and treasure.
Heavily-armed police patrol in Manchester, England, on May 27, 2017. (Photo by Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)
The entire aim of terrorism is to achieve political change by using violence to intimidate. Do we really want to change our way of life just to appease terrorists, allowing them to win?
Corbyn presents a choice of fighting against Islamism and thereby making ourselves into targets, or failing to do so in order to appease Islamists and thereby surrendering to a religious autocracy. As Islamists highlight that, regardless of our policies, they will attack us unless we embrace Islam, defending what we value would seem the better choice. It is time for Europe's leaders to face up to the reality.
Robbie Travers, a political commentator and consultant, is Executive Director of Agora, former media manager at the Human Security Centre, and a law student at the University of Edinburgh.