Trying to make sense of the London terror attack | Letters

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A woman reads a card on a floral tribute at the Houses of Parliament on Thursday. ‘Calling them acts of war helps to glorify the unjust,’ writes Pete Stockwell. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Many of us rightly feel distress and moral outrage at the attack in London, leaving some innocent people dead, some with horrific injuries. That feeling is only human. Such deaths and injuries, much magnified, occur more or less daily in, for example, Syria, Yemen and Iraq – yet receive proportionately far less distress and outrage from us. That too seems to be human. Ought not that discrepancy to cause us some moral unease? Or does that question’s implication suggest a silly “citizen of the world” attitude which Theresa May rejects as being a citizen of nowhere?
Peter Cave
London

• “It is not an act of war,” you say in your editorial (23 March). Exactly. It was a disastrous error of judgment when the “war against terror” was declared. Until that point all governments had insisted acts of terror were criminal acts. Calling them acts of war helps to glorify the unjust, and lends unwarranted dignity to cowardly and pointless slaughter.
Pete Stockwell
London

• Simon Jenkins continues to profess bafflement at the motivation of Islamic terrorists (This attack is a tragedy but not a threat to democracy, 23 March). If he really wants to understand it, all he has to do is read any of the many websites run by imams and devoted to Islamic theological education. He will find there is an Islamic doctrine, “punishment of the grave”, which condemns even rather pious Muslims to horrible torments between their death and judgment day, in retribution for misdemeanours as trivial as splashing their clothes with urine while using the lavatory.

Imagine the effect on the mental health of Muslims who know themselves guilty of much worse offences. Suicide bombers often turn out to have been far from devout. Ironically enough, that is often advanced as evidence that their crime had “nothing to do with religion”. To them, martyrdom – the killing of unbelievers – offers a free pass to paradise, escaping all the judgment formalities.

In spite of direct declarations by aspiring bombers themselves and their proud relatives, we western liberals seem to have great difficulty in accepting that some Muslims really believe this, and indeed act on it.
Christopher Wallis
Beaminster, Dorset

• Simon Jenkins is correct in his analysis of the publicity given so generously by media and public figures in the aftermath of Wednesday’s lone attack in Westminster. It was certainly not, in the prime minister’s words to parliament, an attempt to “silence our democracy”. On the contrary, these acts are intended to broadcast and expand their recruitment from among us. The terror they intend to provoke is not primarily aimed at us, the west, democracies, our freedoms etc. There is no realistic aspiration to create a “caliphate” in London, or anywhere else in Europe.

The terror Isis wants to provoke is in the fractured states of the Middle East and north Africa, where many tens of thousands have been killed or subjected to their appalling abuse. For that they need recruits, and long experience, dating back to the anarchists of the 1900s, has shown the best recruiting sergeants to be the amplification of their atrocities by the public reaction to them in the west. No one can condone such attacks, and the immediate victims deserve our unqualified support. But we undermine that support, and encourage yet more atrocities, when we provide the perpetrators with a megaphone for their crimes.
Jeremy Carver
London

• We unreservedly condemn the heinous terrorist attack on our symbol of democracy. Britain has always personified social justice, inclusion, multiculturalism and humanitarianism. The picture of healthcare workers rushing to help even the criminal who perpetrated this evil act is proof of our noble principles. Terrorism has no religion, colour, creed or caste. It is vital to remain vigilant and not rush to condemn the beautiful religion of Islam that enjoins its faithfuls to espouse tolerance, compassion, mercy, mutual respect, justice and peace. Also, urban planning must take into consideration the myriad challenges of public safety, security in the face of international extremism, radicalism and terrorism. Pavements meant for pedestrians should be protected by concrete blocks containing aesthetic flowers. This could act as a deterrent of future terrorist acts. Last but not least, our message is clear: we will never cower before evil.
Dr Munjed Farid Al Qutob
London

• Politicians speak of us being united in wishing to keep the values of the British way of life, yet we now have the most divided forms of educating our children. How can free schools, for instance, fit in with this shared unity? Our taxes are supporting diversity, not cohesion. If groups of any persuasion wish to promulgate their dogmas they should pay for it themselves and have their activities closely monitored.
Rita McGhee
Washington, Tyne and Wear

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