A Service of Remembrance was held in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral today, to commemorate 7/7, England’s 9/11. It came just eleven days after another terrorist attack in Tunisia claimed the lives of thirty British tourists.
Ten years ago exactly, 52 people were killed when four home grown Islamic terrorists blew up three subway trains and one bus. Dozens more suffered life-changing injuries.
At times, the service was deeply moving. In attendance were Prince Andrew, the Prime Minister David Cameron and his predecessor, Tony Blair, who was prime minister when the attacks took place, together with his wife, Cherie. Family members of the deceased filled the great church, built in the late seventeenth century following the Great Fire of London.
London is, arguably, the most multicultural city in the world. The deceased were drawn from different cultures and different religions. The perpetrators of the atrocities were all Muslims, born in England, and all from fairly affluent backgrounds. Their actions were not motivated by poverty or lack of opportunity.
The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, pointed out, that: “the majority of the victims were young, they came from all over the UK and all over the world. There were Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Humanists . . . London is an astonishing world in a city, but beyond the diversity… this was a terrible crime that robbed us of family and friends.”
He continued: “Our London is a laboratory for testing whether it will be possible for the cosmopolitan civilization, which is becoming a global reality, to hold together.”
“We are in the midst of a debate about identity, including what it means to be British. Some in the world are reacting to change by retreating into ever narrower definitions of their identity. At the same time, merely invoking the universal concepts of tolerance and respect, with which we probably all agree, does not generate one iota of the energy required to transform lives and to build a community. We cannot exorcise the Satanic by creating a spiritual vacuum.”
The Bishop’s comments were thought-provoking. Some might disagree with some of what he said.
He talked of our “cosmopolitan civilization, which is becoming a global reality,” when, in truth, it really isn’t. The suicide bombings that were being commemorated were the acts of second generation Muslims. The countries their families came from are not cosmopolitan. They do not allow westerners into their countries except on short-term contracts – they certainly cannot settle and become citizens no matter how long they stay. Britain and other western nations allow immigration from the Middle East and grant citizenship, thereby encouraging a cosmopolitan society, which clearly has its challenges, when young citizens, far from appreciating the country their parents moved to, instead try to kill as many of their fellow citizens as possible.
He also talked of the “universal concepts of tolerance and respect.” Sadly, these are not universal concepts. They are concepts that developed over time in Protestant countries, when the proliferation of different sects necessitated learning to live peaceably alongside each other. They are western concepts. They do not even extend to Eastern Europe, let alone to China, Russia or even Japan.
The bishop’s remarks highlight the great gulf that exists between the West and the Rest. Multiculturalism is largely one-sided, with people in the West having to bend over backwards to accommodate other cultures that have moved into their territory and are now demanding they get their own way. And, when they don’t, they will blow other people up to make a point.
It’s not surprising that a BBC straw poll taken on Saturday, found that 95% of British people say that multiculturalism is not working.
Further, today’s British papers quote the ex-head of British Counter-terror as suggesting that it’s time for the British government to provide charter flights to Syria, encouraging homegrown jihadists to fly out and join ISIS, after surrendering their passports. This is, finally, recognition that many Muslims in their midst will never show the tolerance and respect that living in Britain requires.