Near-simultaneous car bombs exploded outside two Istanbul synagogues filled with worshippers Saturday, killing at least 20 people and wounding more than 300. The government said the attack had international links, raising suspicions that the al-Qaida terror network was involved.
This is tragic, revolting and frightening, frightening because it gives us another indication that the al-Qaida network is getting stronger and more active. (It’s odd how little attention this has gotten in the blogosphere.)
But what disturbs me the most is a thought I just had. I’m thinking it’s highly possible that in the not too distant future something like this will happen in western Europe. Besides innocent victims, I worry about how it will affect European society. Our civil liberties would likely be further eroded. People would be generally feel more insecure, which might also have an economic effect.
It would certainly cause an upsurge in xenophobia in the country where the attack takes place, and to a lesser extent the rest of Europe. Particulary muslims would get harassed and discriminated against to an even greater extent than now. Xenophobic parties would gain in polls. Calls for even more restrictive immigration policies. Etcetera, etcetera.
All these things are some great challenges facing us today, so the potential for damage is great. The question then, is how much impact it would have. Perhaps very little? An attack would hardly be on the scale of 9/11. A – hopefully moderate and temporary – reinforecement of negative trends. Would it have any effect outside the country where it would happen? Do news from neigbouring countries feel much closer to home than Bali or whatever?
I do think it would have some impact. I haven’t heard any discussion of the issue, no articles on this bombing has made the connection.. We don’t think about it. We will be shocked. But we shouldn’t.
Update: Blogger Kris Lofgren reports from Istanbul.
Update 2: Slightly edited.