Leader: Defy the terrorists by exercising our freedoms

Barriers designed to prevent an attack similar to the one in Las Ramblas happening at the Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Scott Louden
Barriers designed to prevent an attack similar to the one in Las Ramblas happening at the Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Scott Louden
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Islamist terror attacks retain the power to horrify us but, surely, we have long since passed the point at which we stopped finding them at all surprising.

So frequent, now, are reports of successful plots carried out in the name of IS that we take for granted that yet another outrage will soon be perpetrated.

An attack in the heart of Barcelona, where jihadists used a van to kill 14 people and injure dozens more was quickly followed by a terror incident in Finland, where a man stabbed to death two people and injured eight more. Doubtless, there will soon be further chapters in this dark story of extremists who will gladly give their lives in the ending of as many others’ as possible.

Last week, the former director general of MI5, Jonathan Evans, warned that Islamist terror attacks will remain a threat for another 20 to 30 years and that we must remain proactive in tracking down those groups and individuals who are ready to die as “martyrs” seeking to establish global Caliphate.

There remain difficult debates to be had around what impact we are willing to allow this necessary fight against extremists to have on our freedoms.

Las Ramblas in Barcelona is a vibrant and diverse area which stands as a reminder of the lifestyle, of the freedoms, so deplored by Islamists.

Right now, Scotland’s capital is hosting tens of thousands of visitors each day. We know, from the experience in Edinburgh during the festival, that this bringing together of people from around the world is invigorating for any place. Now, sadly, we know that it may also make a city a target.

But what to do? We can’t possibly, unless advised otherwise by politicians and police at particular times of risk, change the way we go about our lives.

Every new terror attack, inevitably, chips away at public confidence. We must guard against this corrosion because it plays into the hands of the zealots who plan each atrocity. Every moment lived as we choose is a moment of defiance.

We should not be surprised if the issue of the powers we give security services to identify and investigate potential terrorists returns to the heart of political debate around this subject. It is important to remember that those powers ensure that for every Islamist attack that comes to fruition, others are thwarted, often with little fanfare.

None the less, while there are dark days ahead in this war on terror we must never stop celebrating the freedoms these zealots despise.