Tunisia: 30 dead and good David Cameron’s Christian plea for intolerance over Muslim evil
Nearly all newspapars lead with the massacre in Sousse, Tunisia. Can the newspapers make sense of the madness?
The Guardian counts the number of dead that “could it 30”.
The paper leads with a photo of a woman in Christian prayer. Most of the victims were Christian. Is the point of showing this photo to heighten that fact?
The Mail focuses on the pain of not knowing who is dead.
But the Daily Mirror knows. It opts for stating the bald facts: “MASSACRE ON THE BEACH – 30 BRITS ARE DEAD.”
Readers see the face of Trudy Jones, 52, from Blackwood, Caerphilly county. It and the picutre of ‘Relative” grieving are voyeuristic. We’re gawping. This is all show and no tell.
The Daily Star and Sun opt for hope.
Ben Wilton and Shelley Hay survived the attack by Seifeddine Rezgui. They ran. Yesterday they got engaged.
“Our hearts go out to all the families who have lost someone and those who were injured. Our marriage proposal is just one little bit of good that has come out of such a tragic day.”
“I wanted to show my love for Shelley and I didn’t want the terrorists to win. I thought, ‘Screw them. They are not going to stop us’. It was an act of defiance against what happened… I was determined the gunman would not spoil Shelley’s day. And because I had only given her a card that morning she knew I had something special for her. We weren’t hungry but we went down for a meal that night where the staff had laid a special table for her and baked a birthday cake.”
But what do we know?
The Independent tells us what we don’t know but do fear.
“Tunisian killer may not have acted alone”
Or to put it another way: ‘Tunisian killer may have acted alone.’ It’s always useful to twist a headline to reveal what it really tells us, which is nothing.
Seifeddine Rezgui – the student who carried out the murderous attack in the Tunisian resort of Sousse which left at least 30 Britons feared dead – disappeared along with six other young men he shared a house with a month before the slaughter on the beach, The Independent understands.
Rezgui is dead.
A number of the men, who had rented the property next to the Mosque of the Seven Virgins in the Islamic holy city of Kairouan, remained at large.
The group led secretive lives, deliberately avoiding contact with local people, according to neighbours, who also claimed that there were visits by a group of Salafists before the building was suddenly left empty. Authorities in Tunisia are “sure” Rezgui had help in Friday’s murderous rampage – though not direct – and are searching for his accomplices.
Where is it looking?
The government in Tunis has announced that it will put in an extra 1,000 armed police to protect tourist facilities and hotels after hundreds more were deployed at beach resorts in the aftermath of the massacre.
Too late. The killer has murdered 39 people. Tunisia is off the agenda for holidaymakers.
The state news agency, TAP, reported that gunmen had raided homes for food in el Kef, around a 100 miles from the coast, before heading into hills bordering Algeria. It was unclear whether there was connection between this and the Sousse killings.
And Algeria bookings are down.
Imam of the Great Mosque of Sidi-Uqba in Kairouan says…
…“damaging actions by weak governments” which followed the overthrow of the dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali four years ago had contributed to Kairouan being infected by extremism.
“From 2011 to last year we had all kinds of imams coming here, from Tunisia and abroad, from Saudi Arabia and Gulf States and other places to spread this kind of thought. This has now been stopped by the new government, but there were plenty of opportunities for this man Rezgui to be indoctrinated,” said Imam Taib… “It would be better to change the imams there. None of these mosques is in Kairouan. We had trouble like that in two mosques last year and we changed the imams… What happened shows that Kairouan is not place for terrorists. Because this killer lived here for a while, this city is now getting a bad name. But he wasn’t even born here.”
Nothing to see here, guv. Move along. It’s not us. It’s them.
The Times says the UK mainland could be next. Maybe.
What do we know?
Sub-machineguns have been smuggled into Britain, raising fears of a jihadist attack similar to the atrocity in which it is feared that more than 30 British holidaymakers were killed in Tunisia.
Jihadis smuggled them in?
The National Crime Agency warned of the “increased threat” of Czech-made Skorpion weapons, capable of firing 1,000 rounds per minute, being trafficked and sold to criminal gangs. The warning alarmed counterterrorist agencies, which have found evidence of a crossover between gangs and jihadist activity, including the trade in firearms.
Well, of course criminals will deal with each other.
Britain has sent security experts to assist the Tunisian investigation into the killer, Seifeddine Rezgui, including tracing those who radicalised him and helped him to acquire his gun and grenade
Or as the Express puts it:
“Send in the SAS to crush Jihadis”
The Herald focuses on the local.
Jim and Ann McQuire, from Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire, were murdered.
The Telegraph goes for the strangest front page: an open letter from Prime Minister David Cameron.
And what he says is odd:
Britain is a nation united in shock and in grief. As the names and identities of the victims in Tunisia emerge – and the horror of what they faced becomes clear – those feelings grow. Everyone is asking the same thing: how can a day at the beach for families and friends have turned into a scene of such horror?
The man who did this, the smiling gunman with a Kalashnikov hidden in a parasol, demonstrates the level of evil we are dealing with. It’s an evil we’ve seen on Mount Sinjar in Iraq and in shopping malls in Kenya; at magazine offices in Paris and in schools in Pakistan.
Having set the story as one of good against evil, Cameron then tells us:
But we will not be cowed. To our shock and grief we must add another word: resolve. Unshakeable resolve. We will stand up for our way of life. So ours must be a full-spectrum response – a response at home and abroad; in the immediate aftermath and far into the future.
If our way of life means package holidays to Tunisia, Cameron’s wrong. He then says we must give police more powers to watch for jihadis online. The problem is that the killer was not known to the authorities in Tunisia.
We must also deal with it at its source, in places like Syria, Iraq and Libya, from where ISIL is peddling and plotting its death cult.
How? We bombed Libya. We invaded Iraq. And our leaders have told us that Syria’s President Assad – still there! – is evil, a man who used chemical weapons on his enemies. That, said President Obama, was a “red line”.
The US and the West helped created the power vacuum that the Islamists are filling.
That means supporting governments to strengthen weak political institutions and tackle political instability. These ungoverned spaces are the areas in which the terrorist groups thrive.
They are not ungoverned: they are governed by the enemy.
The third thing, perhaps the most important thing, is confronting the poisonous ideology that is driving terrible actions like those we saw on Friday. That ideology stems from an extremist narrative, which hijacks the religion of Islam. It says that the West is bad and freedom is wrong.
And once again Dave is an expert on theology.
We must expose and defeat what it is that persuades young people, from Tunisia to Kuwait, from Belgium to Britain, to join ISIL.
Give them more money? End the idea that multi-culturalism is possible? Celebrate true divesity. Hold freedom of thought and freedom of speech sacred, even if you don’t agree with it? Bang ’em up? Wtch them. Turn Muslims into The Other and then offer cod explantions for their thoughts and deeds? Further the idioticy that all Muslims think alike by talking about them as a ‘community’?
When the gunman attacked innocent people spending time with their families on the beach, he was attacking the very things we stand for. We must be stronger at standing up for our values – of peace, democracy, tolerance, freedom. We must be more intolerant of intolerance – rejecting anyone whose views condone the Islamist extremist narrative and create the conditions for it to flourish.
Great. Dave says we will not be undone. Dave then says we must not be tolerant of anyone who says things we don’t like. The ISIS question looks like it born of Western indecision and weakness.
After all, this is not the war between Islam and the West that ISIL want people believe. It’s between the extremists who want hatred to flourish and the rest of the world who want freedom to prosper. They will kill anyone that doesn’t adhere to their warped worldview – Muslim and non-Muslim. They demonstrate that day in, day out.
This is a battle of ideas, a war between cultures and ways of life. It’s not up to Dave to say what is and what is not the true face of Islam. It’s up to him to be the face of the plan to undo its power.
It’s the spirit we have always shown when we faced threats to our nation in our history. It’s the spirit that saw London rebound after the 7/7 attacks, whose 10th anniversary we mark next month. It’s the spirit we saw as British tourists went to the beach in Tunisia this weekend, determined not to be cowed by the terrorists. We are the people who stand up to hatred. They are the cowards who murder defenceless people on a beach. They stand for oppression; we stand for freedom, and a peaceful, tolerant way of life.
Freedeom from or freedom to?