Tunisia hotel attack: Backdrop to this slaughter is a history of violence against Muslims

It didn’t create these Islamists - but it helped lay the foundation for their cults of death

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The Independent Online

It’s “us” and “them” again. It started just after news of the three Islamist attacks broke. David Cameron initially talked about the French and Tunisian killings. He left out the Kuwait mosque massacre – only picking up on it later.

Odd, that. Weren’t those Kuwaitis – of Shia Muslim faith, to be true, all 27 of them – victims of the same Islamist cult that is murdering our folk? And then there are the Sunni Saudis whose Salafist-Wahhabi credo energises the murderers, but whom we – and Mr Cameron – mysteriously forgot to mention?

Wasn’t Saudi Arabia the place where they chopped off the head of a screaming lady in the middle of a street the other day – legally, because she’d been condemned by one of the kingdom’s grotesque courts? And didn’t Mr Cameron order our national flag to be flown at half mast in honour of the wretched old king of the Wahhabi nation which has given us most of the 9/11 killers and helped to prop up the Taliban – and some of whose citizens support the Islamic “caliphate” which now kills our citizens?

Coffins of some of the 27 people killed by a suicide bomb at a mosque in Kuwait City on Friday (Reuters)

One slaughter doesn’t justify another. The bloodbath in Gaza last year was not responsible for slaughter on the beaches of Tunisia – although Mr Cameron did support Israel’s “right to have defended itself” against the “indiscriminate” attacks of Hamas when he was seeking British-Jewish votes in April. Again, no justification for the Sousse killer. Besides, what kind of Islamist “warrior” can claim to be “fighting” such enemies: tourists on a Tunisian beach, a French employer and Kuwaiti worshippers who can’t shoot back?

But before we beat the drum, who this weekend remembered the “terrorist” slaughter of 8,000 innocent men and boys almost exactly 20 years ago? Yes, it happened in Europe. A place called Srebrenica. But they were Muslims. And no one blamed the Orthodox church to which the murderers belonged – any more than we blamed Catholics for the mass killing by Christian Catholic militiamen (allies of Israel) of 1,700 Palestinian civilians in Beirut in 1982. Yet those killers had pictures of the Virgin Mary on their rifle butts as surely as the killer of Sousse was acknowledged by Islamists whose slogan is Koranic.

I’m as guilty as anyone in making these vile distinctions between “us” and “them”. For years, I could only remember Srebrenica because most of the killings happened on my birthday. Sabra and Shatila I recall because I was there and saw the corpses. But often, covering the Balkan wars and the “ethnic cleansing” of the Muslims and the mass rape of Bosnian Muslim women I ignored the effect this would have in the Muslim world. I’d get back to Beirut from Sarajevo, sit by the beach, glance at the incendiary headlines in the Arab press. Been there. Reported that.


Because I’m writing a study of torture and massacre in the Middle East over the past few years, I have become acutely conscious of the fury which anti-Muslim violence has created. Researching through newspapers and speeches from the 1980s and 1990s in the Arab region, I’ve uncovered a world of almost inexpressible anger – yes, and talk of revenge – despite the Arab dictators who worked for us at the time and tried to smother this frustration, even when Iraqis were dying by the thousandfold.

No, it didn’t create the Islamists who kill us today. But it helped lay the foundation for their cults of death – and for the world they grew up in. We had a hand in that. Cliche, of course. But it all goes back to justice. If we were as keen to bring justice to this crushed and humiliated people as we are to discuss so patronisingly their “radicalisation” we might stop the killers wading ashore on tourist beaches or wandering into mosques or murdering the innocent in France. No hope, of course. More security. More phone-taps. More armed cops. That’s what we need.