And Baghdad, and Qatif, and Jeddah, and Dhaka, and Istanbul.

But especially Medina.  The others are terrible, awful, upsetting – worse, in fact, in terms of loss of life – but somehow these sorts of attacks by Daesh have become normal.

Medina, only two days before Eid, feels different, especially shocking.  When I read the news, I found myself reacting physically – I gasped, and felt cold all over.  This attack is something so far beyond what I imagined they might do. It feels like sacrilege.  (Is sacrilege a word that can be used in the context of Islam?  If not, I apologise.) It feels especially terrifying, because if even their own holy places are not safe (not sacred, I am tempted to say), then what is?

As usual, I don’t know what to say. I don’t understand how anyone can think religion justifies killing people.  But even if I could understand the disturbed kind of thinking that makes murder permissible, what sort of believer sets off bombs at his or her own holy places, during his or her own holy days? How does that make sense, in any context whatsoever?

(And surely this is where we must cease calling Daesh the Islamic State – there is, now, nothing about them that could possibly be identified as Muslim, even to the most biased eye.)

My shock and sorrow and sense of blasphemy are not, after all, particularly relevant.  I’m not sure why I’m writing this, except that to ignore it seems even worse than writing something this personal and essentially inadequate.

But for my Muslim brothers and sisters – I am so sorry that this is happening to you.  I am sorry that there will still be people who equate Muslims with terrorists even now.  I am holding you in my prayers.  And I’m wishing you Eid Mubarak for tomorrow.

May we find peace together.


I wanted to make and suggest a donation to the Red Crescent (which is the Middle Eastern branch of the Red Cross), but their site appears to be down at present.  I hope this is because they are overwhelmed with donations already! The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies seems to be working, though very slowly, and now I really do think that people are overwhelming them with donations!  I hope so.  You could also try Medecins Sans Frontières, who go pretty much everywhere and are secular and very good.