This has been a horrific and senseless week in the United Kingdom. Twenty two people were slaughtered by a lone suicide bomber in Manchester at an Ariana Grande concert. And at the time of writing, seven more have died at the hands of three men in central London last night. Dozens more wounded, many with life changing injuries. Not to mention the catastrophic emotional and psychological damage.
Twenty nine dead the media will tell us right? Well no actually. Even my decidedly average mathematics tells me that thirty three people died. Of course I’m including the four men who committed the carnage. Evil, mindless terrorist scum many will argue. However, uncomfortable as this might be to stomach, they were still human beings. With parents, partners and friends and families whose lives have also been ripped apart by the attacks.
I have been trying to pray for ALL of the dead and their families. Because whose to say if I (or any of us) brought up in an identical social, political, cultural and religious environment would as them would not have turned out the same way. What was going through his head when Salman Abedi detonated the explosives. We will never know.
It was too late for him by then. And there are thousands of other young Muslim men out there who now see his martyrdom as inspirational. An act that will motivate them to take forward the jihad against the infidel West.
Is it too late for them? No it’s not. You just need to look at my own country Northern Ireland where 3000 people died at the hands of terrorists between 1969-1998. A more bitter, hate fuelled, sectarian conflict you could not imagine. But now my work brings me into contact with men who have turned their back on that lifestyle. Men with blood on their hands who now use those same hands for peace and reconciliation.
That’s the great thing about having willpower. The capacity for change. Jesus chose an extremist, violent bigot, Simon the Zealot, to be one of his disciples. So if he and others can change what’s to say that a future generation of Islamic martyrs can’t?
So that’s why I choose to pray for the bombers, their families and the Salman Abedi’s of the future. Our shared future.
Please let me know your thoughts about this post.