It is without doubt that all citizens of the UK will show compassion to the people of Paris and France. What happened on November 13 was heinous and the physical, emotional and psychological effects will be ongoing for a long time. We will support them in their determination not to let this barbarous act destroy their way of life.
Also, we should show compassion to communities from which the perpetrators come. Rather than treat these communities with suspicion, maybe we should understand how horrified they may feel that their sons, siblings, family, friends and neighbours could be duped to descend so low by psychopathic leaders of a misguided group to solve their disengagement with wider society. We should also try to understand the conditions in which similar actions could be justified in misguided minds. What we should do is learn to read the signs. One sign we would do well to read is the difference in approach between France and the UK. In France, there has been an attempt by the State to “integrate”, that is to reduce everything to the secular, repressing expressions of culture and religion. In the UK, most citizens have embraced multiculturalism, some rather grudgingly. Allowing people to express their culture and religion gives them an impression of being respected. Rather than appealing to our basic instinct of despising what is “foreign” to us, we ought to embrace the values of a multicultural society. We should ditch Orientalism whereby we study other cultures and religions, compartmentalise them, label them and stuff them into our museums as curiosities. To be orientalist means reducing people to being less than ourselves, fit only for poor jobs, poor housing and to be discarded when they are no longer useful to us. I suggest that this is the background to these men and woman turning to perpetrating these crimes and not that of being Muslim. We should also be careful about the terminology we use. The actions in Paris were not acts of war but were criminal acts. To say we are at war in their perverted minds justifies what they do. To describe them as criminals makes clear to them they are acting against the law.