FR Kevin Ryan treads on very risky ground when he asks whether imposing the death penalty on Amrozi for the Bali atrocity will ‘put an end to the conditions of poverty and disadvantage that give fuel to terrorists’ (CL 31/8/03).
Firstly, it should be transparently obvious that people who are severely disadvantaged and poverty-stricken are, for that very reason, powerless to engage in acts of terrorism, particularly on the scale of the Bali bombing.
Where would they find the money to buy the laptop computer, the explosives, the mobile phones to detonate it, and the vehicle to write off? It has been clearly demonstrated time and again that the most notorious terrorists generally have enormous wealth at their disposal, and to suggest for one moment that the Bali bombers were idealistic individuals acting on behalf of the poor is to give them credit which is entirely undeserved.
Secondly, we Catholics are not allowed the luxury of blaming others for evil actions which are freely chosen and entirely avoidable.
The current trend of blaming the Western world, particularly America, for ‘inciting’ terrorism is little different to the one which held women responsible for ‘provoking’ rape by the way they dressed. We don’t hear much of that one these days, thankfully.
Evil is evil and cannot be explained in any other way, or transferred to any person except the person who freely chooses it.
If Fr Ryan looked a little deeper into the psyche of the Bali bombers, he would discover a cause very different from the one he implies.
It has nothing whatever to do with poverty, and everything to do with fanatical Islamic extremism.
We ‘provoke’ them by our beliefs (and our unbeliefs). We provoke them by our way of life.
That is why thousands of Indonesian Christians have been slaughtered, and their churches burned. That is why more than 200 people died in Bali.
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