“Praise His name ! Aziz, you have chosen the path of perfection. If you could arrange to perform this sacred act on July 14, it would be something that France and the whole world will never forget.”
I wrote that in this Blog on November 16, 2015, just seven months ago. Yesterday, during the national celebration of Bastille Day, July 14, a French-Tunisian terrorist drove his massive 19-tonne truck into the crowd gathered on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice to enjoy the fireworks display. 84 were killed and over 400 seriously injured, both including children, while thousands of others at the site, and millions throughout the country and around the world, were sent into a state of shock.
Before you call the Ministry of the Interior to have my door demolished and me dragged off for questioning (“et plus, si affinités” . . . ; “and more, if we hit it off” ), check out the post “A Short Story about a Short-Cut to Heaven” and you’ll discover the parable I invented. And before you marvel at my fictional, cautionary tale and praise my prodigious prophetical prescience, remember that the whole country was on red alert yesterday. No terrorist needed me to suggest the ideal date. In fact, the target in my “Short Story” was the Eiffel Tower, and the perpetrator a 19-year old “sleeper”, who never succeeded in implementing his Imam’s suggestion, because he was himself victim of another – successful – terrorist attack, when some of his confreres, in the story, blew up the Pantheon.
This personal anecdote aside, we have witnessed yet another predictable, politico-religiously motivated mass-murder, and will be treated to an identical re-edition of the aftermath of its predecessors. For the next week, and more, we will hear the same expressions of outrage, of grief, of helplessness, of bravado, of patriotism, of politically correct sentiments, of hate, of racism, of empty promises, of a tightening of security, of optimism and pessimism, of frustration and of fear, and I hope, of hope . . . knowing that the next attack has already been planned (no, I won’t be making any more “predictions”).
We can foresee the predictable reactions, and while hoping that the military destruction of Daech will become a reality in the near future, know that there are countless “lone wolves” out there, and that none of us will ever be safe again. We will try to avoid crowds, perhaps limit our use of public transport on the ground and in the air, and hope for the best when we must take the inevitable risks. We will accept tightened security measures and sacrifice some of the freedoms to which we were accustomed. And hope that this time, finally, the powers that be, in every country, hear the message we continue to flog in this Blog : marshal the best minds worldwide to conceive and conduct a massive public campaign of deintoxication by anti-fanatic propaganda against Islamist Radicalism.
I can’t resist linking what happened in Nice yesterday with what happened two days earlier at the Memorial Service in Dallas. After the assassination of five police officers, Barach Obama expressed, with exceptional eloquence, his sincere condolences, his honest frustration and his courageous, contagious hope, on behalf of his country at the . . . eleventh such Memorial during his watch ! The challenge of centuries of racism in the so-called United States is different in nature and origin from the challenge facing the planet in Islamist Radicalism. But they share a clear, common choice : “We shall overcome” – or be overcome. Or, to employ another cliché : “United we stand – or divided we fall”.
Those red-robed Princes of the Church in Rome in 1965 got it right when they said : “The future belongs to those who can provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping.” And, for once, they were talking not about the “afterlife” but life here and now, in this valley of tears. Nonetheless, because Islamist terrorism is born of religious belief, our mantra remains :