We know the suicide bomber’s name, but still don’t know precisely what motivated the selection of this venue on this night. The Washington Post published a story today which poses a question about the Manchester attack: Was the Ariana Grande concert targeted simply because it offered a large crowd of vulnerable targets or was this intended to be an attack on western women?
Previous bomb attacks in Brussels and Paris have targeted airports, subway stations, and theaters. An attack in Nice and one in Berlin targeted crowded pedestrian areas. In each of these cases, the goal appears to have been to find a large concentration of people to maximize the death toll of the attack.
But the Manchester attack was not only a crowd but one made up primarily of young women. So it’s possible the goal here wasn’t merely to kill and terrorize but to kill and terrorize a specific group: young, western women. The Washington Post suggests maybe that shouldn’t be so surprising:
“It’s very well known that misogyny is deeply rooted in the radical Islamist worldview,” said Shashank Joshi, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), a London-based think tank…
“There’s a connection between the targeting of a concert like this and the enslavement of young girls in northern Iraq,” said Joshi.
For Joshi, Islamist ideology has long used the hatred of women as a starting point for condemning Western society seen as immoral and “decadent.”…
“If you go back to early Islamist documents,” he said, “misogyny and cultural hostility have often been two sides of the same coin.”
This is the kind of thing that does not show up in the newspaper except after a deadly incident like this. Most of the time, the only mention of radical Islam is to mock someone for using the phrase. In fact, even today some progressives are trying to blame the Manchester attack on misogyny without identifying the source of that misogyny:
I don’t think anyone is denying this attack shows a disgusting hatred of women and girls. And as the Post story suggests, it’s no coincidence that ISIS enslaves women or that the Taliban hates girls getting an education or that Boko Haram has targeted school girls in particular. The question is this: What do all these groups have in common? Because whatever that is, that’s where we should probably be focusing the response to this attack.