Thursday 19 September 2019

Only by uniting as a human family will we defeat the lunatic evil of Isis

Our View

Such hate as we saw in Paris on Friday is scarcely believable. How anyone can fire a sub-machine gun into crowds of innocent people - or voluntarily blow themselves up to kill, maim and terrorise other humans - as the Isis terrorists did in Friday's flashpoints across the French capital is beyond the understanding of most.

Western powers will take the fight more broadly to Isis now from the air in Syria and Iraq. If some form of settlement can be reached on the civil war of the former, it is likely that a consensus on a ground invasion of Isis strongholds will emerge. Military experts are unequivocal on this course: The air war can only go so far, if you want to defeat Isis you have to go in on the ground.

Following Friday, there are fewer in the west who would oppose such a measure. But while the physical fight against Isis is vital, the greater challenge in many ways is the fight against their poisonous belief system.

President Francois Hollande's description of the attacks as an 'act of war' was wholly justified. Viewers worldwide shared the deep pain of the French people, as they recoiled in shock and horror at the unfolding terror on TV screens late on Friday.

As more images of the innocent dead began to emerge our hearts broke anew, imagining the terrifying final moments they suffered. Many now lie critical in hospitals and many more who escaped physically unhurt are beginning new lives as emotional victims of terror. We pray they will come to terms with the horror they experienced in the Bataclan theatre and elsewhere to emerge as survivors of this evil act in time.

The attacks were indeed an act of war by a lunatic fringe of Sunni Islam. But how do you fight a war against the kind of radical Islamism driving the actions of these psychopaths?

Humans have a remarkable capacity for adhering to inherited belief systems after all. Islam and Christianity are cases in point - belief systems now stronger than ever in many places thousands of years since they first took shape. Recent decades have shown us just how persistent Islamism (as opposed to Islam, practised peacefully by hundreds of millions worlwide) is.

There are some indications that we are already winning the fight against the Isis terror, however. And we're winning it through love and compassion; teachings at the very core of both religions.

Experts of the radical Islamist world witnessed on social media how inflamed Isis followers grew over Europe's humane welcoming of refugees from Syria.

The lesson of London in the aftermath of 7/7 is instructive in how we should proceed. Then political leaders successfully exhorted Britain not to become divided by the bombings.

It was deeply heartening here to read the Islamic Cultural Centre of Ireland's condemnation of the atrocities in Paris on behalf of the growing Irish Muslim community.

We know all about terrorism in this country, but we know about its resolution too. It was something we accomplished by patiently standing firm as a single community in the spirit of human compassion against the bloody mayhem.