Terror on the roads

10 Apr

This article was previously published in the Bridport News.

I enjoy reading thrillers and I am currently wading through a bit of a corker called ‘I am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes which is about the hunt for a lone terrorist with big plans. I won’t tell you more of the story but it’s a good read.

It was in another ‘hunt-the-terrorist’ story, Harry’s Game by Gerald Seymour published in 1975, that the phrase: ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ was first coined.

These days the story is probably best remembered for the haunting theme sung by Clanad which accompanied the television adaptation of the story.

The randomness of terrorist acts was brought home to me recently with the attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis in which gunmen deliberately targeted visiting tourists who had gone there to view the amazing collection of Roman mosaics.

I went to the museum in November 2013 as part of a cruise on which I was acting as chaplain and speaker. Are such visits likely again in the near future?

We live in troubled times in which the problems of north Africa and the middle east are spilling over more and more into Europe and there hardly seems to be a day going by without some news item of a new attack or of young people being radicalised and heading off to join one or other of the warring factions.

It’s all very sad.

The UK has lived under the threat of terrorism for over a century. The Fenians, Irish nationalists and forerunners of the IRA, were active in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. The years of ‘The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland saw terrible attacks on the mainland in which hundreds were killed and maimed.

Yet life went on. There is something very stoical in the British character. If we live our lives anxious and fearful then those who would do us harm have won. The lifetime odds of dying in a terrorist attack are 1:2million, of dying in a car accident 1:240.

So terrible though these events are, still go on holiday. But be very careful if you drive.