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Anorak | A Sense of Normality

A Sense of Normality

by | 14th, July 2005

‘ARE we really so shocked the London killers were home-grown British terrorists working out of Leeds?

Well, there were only repeats on the telly…

To many of us, each looks exactly what an Islamic terrorist looks like. They are all male. They are heavily into religion. And they are prepared to kill themselves and others on busy buses and trains.

But the papers are still trying to get their heads round it, and the concerted effort to normalise them and, we suppose, thereby find a way to understand them goes on.

This process begins on the cover of the Mail, where the paper produces headshots of three of the killers and a brief captioned profile for each.

Hasib Hussain “became religious overnight”. “Mohammad Sadique Khan was a “special needs teacher”. “Shehzad Tanweeer was a “talented sportsman and student.”

See how everyday they are. They’re just like the rest of us. Only, they are not. They are murderers. Which is amazing, isn’t it.

Well, not really. It’s a bit like hearing that Harold Shipman was a simple local doctor who didn’t care for old people; Peter Sutcliffe wasn’t overly fond of prostitutes and John Reginald Halliday Christie was a bad neighbour.

But still the attempt to normalise goes on. Now the Sun has a go, replacing the Mail’s captions with a headline for each of the aforesaid three mass murderers.

Khan becomes “THE TEACHER”. Hussain is transformed from an instrument of evil to “THE SHOPLIFTER”. Someone who admits to having known him calls him a “dopey dork”.

And Tanweer is “THE SPORTY YOB”. A kind of loveable rogue, albeit with a big bag of explosives attached to his person and harbouring a murderous grudge against just about everyone and everything.

But this may not be enough. “DO you know any of the suicide bombers or their friends and family,” asks the Sun. There’s a phone number you can call, another number you can text and, given the sophistication of these things, an email address you can write to.

So come on, tell us about them. What football teams did they support? Osama bin Laden has followed Arsenal – does he treat Chelsea and Leeds fans with the same respect as followers of his own club? Or were there heated debates? Who was their favourite Big Brother housemate?

And on it will go. We’re invited to try to understand their motives. We are invited to know them. Only, there is nothing to understand. Hatred is all too obvious…

Paul Sorene’



Posted: 14th, July 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink