A similar composite image was published twenty three years to the day before that tragic night in Manchester by the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, the organisation that represents Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide. The image was used as the cover for the May 22nd, 1994 Awake! magazine. Millions of copies were distributed freely all over the world.

The image bears the faces of 26 children and adolescents. Three of these young people are featured prominently and their stories are told within the magazine, a few faces are partially or wholly obscured. What do these 26 young people have in common, both with each other and with the victims of the Manchester bombing?

They too are all dead, victims of a religious fundamentalism which strictly adheres to an unbending interpretation of it’s own holy text. Now let's be clear. There was no intentional act of violence or indiscriminate attempt to take as many innocent lives as possible, no hatred or desire to see children harmed at all and yet these 26 children are dead all the same. More have died in the quarter century that has since passed.

I’m not qualified to comment on Islamic fundamentalism or how to counter it but I was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses for most of my life and I would imagine the suggestions I offer for that group would probably apply to Islam and any other ‘high control’ group.

[1] Drop the automatic respect for religion. No need to get nasty about it, churches, mosques and Kingdom Halls provide comfort and community for many and individuals should be able to practice their faith without harassment or fear, but there must be caveats.

[2] Harmful practices must be challenged. Ignore the believers discomfort, dissonance exists for a reason. Ignore cries of ‘persecution’, children's lives are literally at stake. Jehovah’s Witnesses must be made to defend their doctrines on blood, shunning and abuse as well as their purposeful miseducation of children including using fear of demons and an imminent armageddon as control tactics. This is abuse and we should calmy (and selectively) use that word.

[3] Offer support. It isn’t good enough to just challenge and debate, make sure individual JW’s know how to contact you if and when they are ever willing to do so. ‘Hit & Run’ apostasy is pointless, selfish and unkind.

I've titled this article 'The Polite Terrorists' because, as polite and well mannered as most Jehovah's Witnesses are, fear and terror are both tools wielded by these devout fundamentalists and the results as seen above are shocking. I'll be developing this theme of polite terrorism in future articles.

These are only my thoughts of course, I welcome yours in the comments below.

Nicolaou

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchester_Arena_bombing

[2] https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/808213/Manchester-terror-attack-victims-named-Ariana-Grande-bombing-explosion

[3] http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/salman-abedi-manchester-arena-bomber-13601393

Author: undubbed