After Karbala, Madrid - the most horrendous attack in Spanish history, in Europe's history....
I sent an email to the Spanish delegation at the UN to express my total solidarity and sorrow:
In these days of mourning, my heart and thoughts are constantly with the victims of this hideous massacre, their families and the people of Madrid.
My greatest hope is to see those responsible for this massacre identified, put on trial and punished as they deserve. I strongly believe that the prevention and punishment of such atrocities can only become effective through the closest possible collaboration amongst all countries, in particular through the UN, and by establishing ever-closer bonds and common policies amongst all the nations of Europe, in friendship with the nations of North Africa and the Middle East, in a climate of mutual respect, partnership and sincere cooperation.
In shared sorrow, with my deepest sympathy.
The authors are not yet known, but ETA has denied any involvement and the Abu Hafs al-Masri brigade has sent a letter claiming responsibility... plus the vast scale of carnage, the multi-focal technique - which does not seem in keeping ETA - so at this point, I think it most likely is the work of an "al qaeda"-type group.
Of the various comments following this attack, the position I agree most strongly with so far is that of the UK Guardian:
The victims of the commuter train bombings in Madrid and the Spaniards who came out of the streets last night surely deserve more than party political responses. Europe too needs to mould a different response to its September 11. Spain has a history which places it at the crossroads of the European and Arab worlds. It understands both traditions. It is a country where once Jew, Muslim and Christian lived together. An international conference, to bridge the divide between Muslim and Christian communities, should be one first step. But there are many others. We need to take the fight against terror out of America's hands. We need to get beyond the them and us, the good guys and the bad guys, and seek a genuinely collective response. Europe should seize the moment that America failed to grasp.
It is one thing for NATO to join the US war against Afghanistan out of European solidarity with the US following 9/11... and for some European leaders to follow America's urgings to join the US/UK war against Iraq - again chiefly out of solidarity and "extreme" friendship towards the USA... another to pledge blind support to actions and policies so out of keeping with our own beliefs, values and national principles... and also with Europe's historic experience of fighting terrorism, which have always hinged not merely on a show of repressive strenght, but have always sought at the same time to address the grievances that fostered the climate of resentment which breeds terrorism by seeking political solutions as an essential means of isolating the terrorists and preventing the spreading of extremist violence.
And as it is now clear that Europe itself now has to contend with a very grave terrorism problem, I think the time has come for European leaders to decide together what our common policy should be, in all its aspects, against this tremendous threat - and take the necessary measures on a Pan-European basis.
We must no longer passively allow foreign powers to determine our policies and actions for us. Of course there is a great and obvious need for full cooperation amongst ALL countries - and in particular for close collaboration amongst ALL police and intelligence agencies, all over the world, to hunt down all those who plan and carry out such horrendous acts - wherever they may be, whatever their allegiances may be - and above all to seek to prevent further terrorist atrocities.
This must always be guaranteed, with ALL countries all over the world - i.e. NOT only with the USA, but even more urgently with those of North Africa and the Middle East.
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