Hard Lessons from the Manchester attack

Hard Lessons from the Manchester attack

Our Editor-in-Chief, Benjamin Tallis, comes from #Manchester and has combined personal reflections on the tragic attacks in the city with his professional expertise in security studies and understanding political violence in recent days. 

“It was tough waking up to the terrible news from Manchester. So many dead and injured. The concert at the Manchester Arena seemingly chosen to target children and young teenagers. As our family went about our morning routine it was very hard to hear the details of this cowardly and vile attack, which would be worthy of universal condemnation wherever it had taken place. But it didn’t take place just anywhere, it happened in the city where I grew up and in an arena I have been to many times.”

Thus opens an opinion piece in Czech Hospodářské Noviny (translated into English for openDemocracy here) by our Editor-In-Chief Benjamin Tallis about the Manchester suicide bombing attack, which took place on Monday 22. 5. 2017. He stresses out that we should not rush into conclusions and point fingers at whole communities. We should wait and see what the investigation brings. Fortifying the city is also not an answer:

“It’s incompatible with the kind of free, fulfilling and creative life that Manchester is famous for. Like any city, Manchester can never be 100% safe but that doesn’t mean we should shut down what makes it special. Manchester is, by some measures, the most diverse city in the Europe – and it feels like that… that kind of community only gets built the hard way – but thankfully it’s also hard to break and will survive this atrocity. Rather than prejudicial judgements and quick security fixes this is the hard lesson we should learn from the Manchester attack.”

In regards to the attack, our Editor-In-Chief also appeared on Czech TV.


Když na Londýn padaly za Druhé světové války bomby, Londýňané chodili tančit a do biografu. “Teroristé náš způsob života nezmění,” zní i dnes. Britský pohled na terorismus i mentalitu tamních lidí s Benjaminem Tallisem, který v Manchesteru vyrůstal.

Posted by Události komentáře on Tuesday, May 23, 2017


Among other things in the interview, he emphasises the need to avoid seeing ‘British Muslims’ as one homogenous block, as there are many differences between the individual groups within this broad community and points to the example of Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London as just one of the many successes of integration.

Responding to questions as to why terrorists feel the need to act violently even if they themselves are not necessarily poverty stricken or deprived he noted the following: Terrorists often feel the need to conduct political violence in the name of  disenfranchised or oppressed groups. In such circumstances, even when the attacker himself is not marginalised in this way, he wants to speak for those who are – or who he sees as being oppressed.

Crucially, as Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham – and many others – have argued in the wake of the attack – they do not have a legitimate claim to speak for these communities – and are certainly not representative of Muslims in the UK – or elsewhere.

We at the New Perspectives would like to express our condolences to all the victims of the Manchester attack and their families but also to express our admiration for the way that Mancunians have responded – with an inclusive and tolerant spirit in keeping with the city’s diverse community spirit – and its musical tradition.