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Keep calm and carry on

  • Published at 02:00 pm May 24th, 2017
  • Last updated at 02:09 pm May 24th, 2017
Keep calm and carry on

The UK is no stranger to the fear of terror, but most of its vigilance in recent times has been centred around London.

But life happens outside of London too, as does terror.

The world was shocked as reports came in of a deadly explosion outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

This time, the suicide bomber was born and bred in the UK, though he did have a Muslim-sounding name. With 22 people killed and scores more injured, the attack was the deadliest on British soil since 2005.

Certainly, there is a sense of déjà vu here -- the recent IS attacks in a theatre in Paris also took place during a concert, although that one took place inside the theatre, whereas the Manchester attack was technically outside, in a public space.

Nevertheless, the parallels are clear, and it is a safe bet that Europeans will feel a little more wary about going to concerts from now on.

And the sad thing is, although the chances of actually being blown up at an event such as this are minuscule, the fear will multiply, security will be beefed up everywhere, and the world will become that much less free.

Memories of Holey

Let’s come back home for a bit: Who could ever forget the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery last year? The city of Dhaka is no one’s idea of a safe city. Violence and terror are endemic here, and yet, there was something about that attack that changed things.

What happened in Manchester was specifically an attack on the innocent and unprepared, a hit on a target that was way too easy

It changed the perception of who could get attacked, where they could get attacked, and what the attackers could look like.

Overnight, the security situation in Dhaka changed. Checkpoints became more frequent and rigorous.

It wasn’t just embassies and airports and big shopping centres doing security checks anymore -- now you have to empty your pockets and walk through a metal detector just to get a cup of coffee somewhere.

A suspicion-free world where you could walk in to a restaurant without an airport-style security check turned into a distant dream.

That was, of course, what the terrorists always wanted -- to change the ways of a whole city by attacking just one location.

Manchester residents are not quite as brutalised as Dhaka-dwellers, for them the shock will be deeper.

No one was expecting this atrocity at a concert of Ariana Grande of all performers, whose fans are mostly young girls.

At least the band playing at the Paris concert in 2015 was called Eagles of Death Metal, though that does not make the terror acts any less unforgivable.

But what happened in Manchester was specifically an attack on the innocent and unprepared, a hit on a target that was way too easy.

When terrorists target children and teenagers, the world unites with rage and grief. And we all do need to stand with the people of Manchester and fight this evil together.

Party of none

But will Islamic State meet any of its broader political goals? For instance, will the Manchester attack affect the upcoming elections?

Many fear that the attacks will tip the scales in favour of Theresa May, as the divide between Muslim moderates and angry natives widens. IS celebrations in the aftermath, and happily taking credit only adds fuel to this fire.

But Jeremy Corbyn can probably relax -- nothing so obvious will happen, though if he does lose it will be for other reasons. Indeed, IS seems to be trying very hard to polarise Europe by fostering hatred against the immigrant Muslim population.

Thankfully, it has not worked.

They hit France hard, but Emmanuel Macron still won. They hit Germany, but support for Angela Merkel stands strong. Europe so far seems unwilling to play IS’s game.

In a dismal world where Donald Trump is the president of the US, it is all the more important that Europe keeps its head straight and does not get overrun with ignorance and hate.

The UK, however, is a different story.

Brexit left the liberal world scratching its head, wondering how the country would cope with the mess it made. Now, both parties have suspended their campaigns.

Nevertheless, how they cope with the crisis, and what statements they make at this time may prove crucial.

But as more and more of these attacks happen worldwide, something strange is happening -- they are losing their power to affect politics.

And that’s why the IS bosses who hope to have influence on government are likely to be sorely disappointed.

Abak Hussain is Editor, Editorial and Op-Ed, Dhaka Tribune.

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