The youngest victim of the horrific terrorist bombing Monday night at a pop concert in Manchester, England, was an 8-year-old girl. Hers is the face of the innocence that was stolen from so many young people. We should bear that in mind as the aftermath of the attack unfolds.
There were 22 who were killed when the bomb blast tore through the Manchester Arena where American singer Ariana Grande had just finished performing. Fifty-nine were injured.
Many of the victims were teenage girls.
A photograph on the front page of Tuesday’s Telegraph newspaper showed two young women wrapped in thermal blankets. One was wearing cat ears, an Ariana Grande trademark.
Manchester police have identified the suicide bomber as Salman Abedi, 22, who lived in south Manchester. Abedi was a British passport holder of Libyan descent.
The television images of panicked young women running through the arena were a stark reminder of the evil nature of terrorism.
The fact that Abedi targeted a concert attended by hundreds of mostly young people who simply wanted to celebrate the music they love speaks to the warped nature of individuals devoid of moral underpinnings and a sense of right and wrong.
It is ironic that the suicide bomber had left his socially and politically repressive homeland for the West, where freedom to live as one pleases is the hallmark of great societies.
Rather than displaying gratitude to Britain for embracing him as a citizen, Abedi repaid the generosity with the destruction of innocent lives. His cowardice and depravity will be his obituary.
Saudi Arabia summit
It is also ironic that the bombing, for which ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) immediately took credit, came just about a day after President Donald J. Trump addressed the Arab Islamic American Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
In his speech, Trump, who said he was honored to be in the presence of the 50 or so heads of state, called for a unified campaign against terrorism. But, he contended that Arab nations must be in the forefront of the effort. Here’s what the president said, in part:
“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive them out. Drive them out of your places of worship. Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of this earth.”
The fact that the president made Saudi Arabia his first stop on his first trip abroad – he will return over the weekend after attending the meeting of the Group of 7 in Sicily – was not lost on the troubled Middle East or on America’s allies around the world. His conciliatory tone stood in stark contrast to his strident anti-Islamic rhetoric during last year’s presidential election.
It is noteworthy, therefore, that the leaders of Arab nations that he hailed on Sunday were silent in their reaction to Monday’s bombing in Manchester.
The Telegraph of London posted a story on its website at 1:08 p.m. Tuesday that was based on reaction from leaders within Britain and around the world to the horrific act of terrorism.
The Vatican issued a message of condolences that said, in part: “Mindful in a particular way of those children and young people who have lost their lives, and of their grieving families, Pope Francis invokes God’s blessings of peace, healing and strength upon the nation.”
President Trump said perpetrators of the Manchester bombing are “evil losers.
“I won’t call them monsters because they would like that term,” Trump said. “They would think that was a great name. I will call them losers from now on. And we’ll have more of them. But they’re losers, just remember that.”
Even Muslim-majority Pakistan offered its sympathies, with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemning the attack.
“PM has stated that elimination of terrorism requires concerted efforts & such acts targeted towards innocent people is highly condemnable,” Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said in a statement on Twitter.
The silence of Arab leaders in the immediate aftermath of the Manchester bombings sends a clear message about their willingness to take on the lead role in the fight against global terrorism perpetrated by Islamic extremists.
President Trump may want to rethink his strategy.