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In the press

Chemical Weapons in Syria...and the Ramifications of a Terror Attack in London

The world papers – particularly in Britain – are immersed in a growing debate about the ramifications of last week’s murder of a British soldier in London. Plus, Le Monde has an exclusive on chemical weapons being used in Syria.

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For the past two months, Le Monde has gathered evidence of chemical weapons being used on the battlefield. Members of the Free Syrian Army are described as bent over double, suffocating, coughing, and vomiting. Some have reportedly succumbed to the attacks and died, but Le Monde says their unpredictable nature, and the long, agonizing effects wrought by chemical weapons could sow panic in rebel ranks.

In the Independent, Yasmin Alibhai Brown asks why she and other Muslims must keep “explaining themselves,” whenever an extremist attacks in the name of Islam. She has written about similar hate-crimes before, but “it’s never enough”. She doesn’t recall the Irish being called upon to denounce IRA attacks in London, or white people being asked to condemn drone attacks in Afghanistan.

Calling for unity in the United Kingdom in the Telegraph, London’s mayor Boris Johnson asks that we distinguish Islam from ‘Islamism.’ But in response to those who say extremists are angered by British and American foreign policy, he says we cannot entertain such debates, as we can never appease them.

The Guardian takes issue with those who oppose an open debate which might blame Western foreign policy in part for extremist ire. The Guardian says people who refuse to entertain the idea there might be some link imagine “in their muddled way” that “to explain an event is to excuse it.” It goes on to say that if we imagine extremists do things for no reason at all, it is hard to see how you can defeat them. 

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