Why I won’t be hashtagging #PrayForNice

Comment: written by Harriet King.

Although solidarity through social media remains important and influential, it will not change the ideology of terrorism or serve the much deserved justice to the victims – the West need a new strategy to combat extremism. 

Last night France experienced its third mass terror attack in a period of less than two years. A total of 84 people lost their lives, as a 31-year-old male extremist, said to be associated with the Islamic State, ran a truck through a Bastille Day event in Nice.

Already, I can personally guarantee the immediate reaction will be as follows:

International, corporate news organisations fly their reporters and foreign correspondents out to France, to get eyewitness accounts and photograph the aftermath.

Discussion streams all over the net – “A sad day for France. The world is such a horrible place. I just want it to end. What is happening to the world?” – An array of unanswered questions, which will remain answered by the random people you happen to be friends with on Facebook.

An Internet troll decides to play devil’s advocate and tweet an outrageous statement influencing hate speech and Islamophobia, to which they receive even more hate for their ignorance.

We are seeing the same pattern repeat itself, the same controversies arising, and the same aftermath overshadowed by the media and social networks – sometimes forgetting the reality of the situation that people genuinely lost lives and loved ones in these attacks.

Showing solidarity in a time of terror and panic is of the utmost importance, and this cannot be disputed, but circulated unification on social media will not stop the ideology behind extremists and Jihadist terrorists such as ISIS. It will not stop the attacks and it will not service justice to the victims.

The real questions aren’t “why are people so cruel?” or “how do we make the world a better place?” but more so how do we confront a group of terrorists who are clearly inexplicable and on a different mindset of ideologies to the rest of the world.

The situation in Nice is terrifying and heartbreaking. However, change will only come about once extremism is tackled and intelligence is handled with vigilance.

France were still in a state of emergency during the attacks in Nice last night, so should not have been victims of another terrorist attack. Both the police and intelligence services should know of every suspect in the country – not solely the French police, who acted with astonishing bravery, as was the case with lasts nights attacker.

Europe needs to work in collaboration to establish an intelligence service that tackles terrorism beyond any system seen in history – to overcome the issue once and for all.

It is evident groups such as the Islamic State are present in the Middle East – which is nevertheless still unjustifiable – however, many often forget the group’s mass recruitment reaches countries transnationally.

The attack in Nice proves that the ideology of the Islamic State is growing – allowing them to claim responsibility for almost every international attack of terror. The group’s approaches and methodology is also expanding beyond gunfire, as they begin to use vehicles to kill in mass numbers.

ISIS overturned the ‘terrorism on the front line’ stereotype and has brought conflict and terror around the world – recruiting members globally, based in countries throughout Europe, and indoctrinating them with its Islamic caliphate.

This is what needs to be confronted; the groups expansion and control over not only their own territories but now also Europe and the US. We need to accept the sad truth that terrorism such as that carried out by ISIS has no target, no religion and no motive, and anyone, in any country, can be a victim of the violence. Circumspection should be of the utmost importance for the West and its security to put an end to these attacks.

The “Terror attack – #PrayForNice – Change Facebook profile picture to overlay of flag – life goes back to normal” cycle is becoming all too familiar.

The justice for France/Brussels/Tunisia/Iraq/Bangdalesh/ US etc signs and protests are becoming all too familiar.

The issue needs to be addressed, once and for all, so justice does not need to be served to the  victims – because victims do not exist in the first place.


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