Causes thrive on martyrs. Suicide bombers are described as ‘martyrs’ by their puppet masters. Interestingly, people who gain moral strength from their own martyrs rarely recognise that their enemies may gain equal moral strength from theirs.
The opponents of fanatical Islamism, which is fuelled by the blood of ‘martyrs’, have gained a new martyr of their own: Colonel Arnaud Beltrame (pictured). He was the police officer who exchanged himself for a hostage at the Super U supermarket in Trèbes.
Not only did he expose himself to the most extreme danger. He kept his mobile ’phone with him and connected to fellow police officers, allowing them to hear what was going on inside.
Arnaud Beltrame died a hero’s death. His heroism and his name will be remembered when the ‘martyrs’ of Daesh, Al Shabab, Boko Haram and their like are at the bottom of the rubbish heap of history.
“Prepare for more pain YOU COWARD.” That’s the 5cm-high headline on page 9 of today’s Sunday Mail. The ‘coward’ referred to is Riduan Isomuddin (aka Hambali), the suspected mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings, who’s been in Guantanamo for more than 10 years.
Increasingly, world leaders and commentators have been attaching the ‘coward’ label to suicide bombers and perpetrators of other atrocities, and I’m not sure that it’s appropriate.
Whatever one thinks of these people and their motives, and the puppeteers who pull their strings, I don’t think they’re cowards. They have to overcome their instinct for self-preservation, for one thing; and their instinctive empathy for fellow humans. Killing oneself and killing other people takes courage.
But, you may say, if a crime is committed in the name of Islam the perpetrator is promised great rewards in Paradise. True, but what if his suicide vest fails? What if he’s shot but not killed? He faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life locked up, maybe maimed, probably celibate, hoping that failure to complete his mission does not disqualify him from receiving a martyr’s prize.
And surely some of them must consider the possibility that the men who made those promises are themselves misguided – or even liars. Then they face eternity in Hell.
No. I see foolishness, I see wickedness, but I don’t see cowardice.
Does it matter what epithets we throw at them? I think it does. Unless we correctly characterise their crimes and their motivation we cannot counter them effectively.
Sorry: I can think of no suitable picture to include in this post.