Our response needs to change from security alone to combating ideological menace of Radical Islam
The events in the church in Rouen are now being reported as yet another Islamist attack in Europe.
This is not the first instance of churches being targeted by Islamists in France – just last year a plot targeting churches was foiled by French security services in Paris. This is part of a broader pattern of Islamist violence targeting Christians, including the beheading of twenty-one Coptic Christians on a beach near Tripoli last year. Islamic State has repeatedly called for attacks on Christians and churches within their propaganda. On the 21st of May this year Senior Islamic State Spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani attempted to incite the killing of non-Muslims calling for “a month of calamity everywhere for the non-believers … especially for the fighters and supporters of the caliphate in Europe and America”, he went on to say “targeting those who are called ‘civilians’ is more beloved to us and more effective, as it is more harmful, painful, and a greater deterrent to them.”
We must understand that a central motivation behind these attacks is an ideological religious totalitarianism. Murdering priests is a far more comprehensible action from this perspective than from any other. The ideological root cause of these attacks must therefore be acknowledged and challenged.
Fighting this ideological root cause is even more important given the complexity of the challenge facing security services, and their corresponding inability to foil so many plots. Reports indicate that the two perpetrators were armed with knives. This presents a particular challenge as acquiring the equipment required to carry out a gun or bomb based attack provides an opportunity for the security services to intercede, but if the attackers merely use a knife (or a truck as in Nice) it is extremely difficult to stop them.
Executive Director of The Henry Jackson Society, Dr Alan Mendoza, said: “This latest ISIS attack, which has occurred while France remains in a State of Emergency, shows once again how difficult it is to guard against assaults with unsophisticated weapons. Terrorists have shown that while they prefer spectacular attacks using bombs and guns, they are able to adapt when required. Our own strategy now needs to react in return. While maintaining the maximum security for all citizens that is required, we also need to prosecute a campaign to drive Radical Islam back into the ideological shadows from which it emerged.”