On 17 August, a brutal terrorist attack on Las Ramblas in Barcelona saw a van drive more than half a kilometre, running over hundreds of people in its path. The tragic result of this attack was the death of 13 people, with more than 100 injured.
The attack, which Islamic State immediately claimed responsibility for, was followed hours later in the town of Cambrils in Tarragona with an attack where a woman was stabbed to death.
Terror attacks like this need to be wholeheartedly condemned. But while nothing excuses them, we must understand the context in which they take place. They are born out of the death and destruction caused by Western military intervention in the Middle East, motivated by a desire for power, prestige and profit at the expense of the lives of ordinary soldiers and the mass suffering of the people of the region. This is driving a small minority of Muslim people into the arms of Islamic fundamentalists both in the region itself and in the West, where Muslims also experience disproportionate social deprivation as well as discrimination and profiling at the hands of the state.
Further military intervention in the Middle East or repression against the Muslim community in Europe will do nothing to prevent further atrocities. It will only serve to create more suffering and drive more angry and disenfranchised young people into the arms of the likes of Islamic State. Instead, we must demand the withdrawal of all foreign military forces from the Middle East, an end to imperialist wars, and fight for a society without racism and discrimination, where society’s wealth is used to provide decent jobs, homes, education and healthcare for all. The rise of far-right terror in Europe and the US demonstrates that terrorism is not an issue of race or religion but a symptom of the sick capitalist system which breeds hated and division.