Yesterday, a knife-wielding ISIS militant murdered a police chief and his wife in Magnanville, near Paris. Commandos shot the assailant dead, just managing to save the couple’s child taken hostage.
As a part-time resident of France, I feel I ought to respond to the tragedy, offering words of comfort to the French people. Yet I’m so overcome by grief that I’d be stuck for words – but for the shining example set by my political idol Barack Hussein, ‘Hussie’, as he likes to be known to his friends, among whom I’m proud to count myself.
Hussie’s heartfelt message of condolences offered to his fellow Americans, specifically the families of the Orlando victims, has cast a bright light in whose rays I feel privileged to bask. So here are my words of hope and unity, inspired by Hussie:
Today we grieve the brutal murder – a horrific massacre – of Commander Jean-Baptiste Salvaing and his wife. We pray to God, Allah or other, for their surviving family members, who are grasping for answers with broken hearts. We stand with the people of Magnanville, who have endured a terrible attack on their city. Although it’s still early in the investigation, we know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate. And we are united in grief, in outrage and in resolve to defend our people.
I know that many of us feel tempted to ascribe Larossi Abballa’s heinous act to his association with ISIS or indeed his Muslim faith. Though it’s still early in the investigation, we can state with certainty that nothing can be further from the truth. For one thing, we haven’t yet fully established what organisation hides behind those initials. It is wrong to jump to the conclusion that they stand for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Just as easily they could denote the International Society for Iguana Safety. In fact, considering that Islam is a religion of peace, this is the likelier possibility.
In any case, we’ve reached no definitive judgement on the precise motivations of the killer. Whatever they are, this act is a sobering reminder that attacks by any Frenchman – regardless of race, ethnicity or especially religion if it happens to be Islam – is an attack by all of us. We all must take the collective blame and not try to assign it to any group, especially one like the Muslims whose commitment to peace and nonviolence is widely known and amply documented.
Instead we must redirect our attention to the real cause of this unspeakable tragedy. The stabber was apparently armed with a knife. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for people to get their hands on a weapon that lets them stab human beings in a school, or in a house of worship, or a cinema, or in a nightclub – or indeed in their home. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want France to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.
A woefully wrong decision. This morning I went to my local department store, finding to my horror that hundreds of deadly weapons can be purchased by anyone with a few euros in his or her or their or its pocket. Chopping knives, serrated knives, fish knives, steak knives, vegetable knives, fruit knives, bread knives, boning knives, kitchen knives, carving knives, paring knives, chef’s knives, utility knives and just knives. Add to this hatchets, heavy frying pans or variously sized nails and bottles of lighter fuel, which could easily be brought together to make bombs, and you’ll realise that our department stores are veritable depositories of lethal weapons positively inviting murder.
But it’s knives than concern me most, and we must decide if we want France to be the kind of country where anyone with hatred in his heart can walk into a department store and, for a mere €14.50, walk out with a Sabatier blade – and a whetstone that could hone the knife razor-sharp, turning it into a lethal throat-slashing, head-severing weapon. Because some people, regardless of race, ethnicity or especially religion if it happens to be Islam, can’t control their lethal impulses, we must muster strength and resolve to control lethal weapons: knives of all types.
May God, Allah or other, bless the Frenchmen we lost this morning. May He comfort their family. May God continue to watch over this country that we love. Thank you.