It is somewhat surreal, though sadly not unexpected, to see the spots I had walked on not that long ago becoming scenes of terrorist attacks. I swear it’s not me; it’s just the nature of places I visited. First it was De Meir street in Antwerp, where Mohammed R., French national of North African origin, tried (fortunately unsuccessfully) to run down pedestrians with a car about six months after I trod this pedestrian mall from the Central station do the Scheldt river. Now, within the past 48 hours there have been two other instances of post-Chrenkoff attacks.
Firstly, Jawed S., a 19-year old refugee from Afghanistan who applied for an asylum in Germany, has travelled by train to the Central station in Amsterdam where he proceeded to randomly stab two people (who happened to be American tourists) before being shot and wounded by the police.
“It is apparent from his statements that he believes that in the Netherlands, the Prophet Muhammad, the Quran, Islam and Allah are repeatedly insulted,” prosecutors said, noting that the young Afghan man specifically mentioned Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders, who is well known for his fierce anti-Islam rhetoric.
Nothing like escaping from Afghanistan to the safety of Germany only to seek out another country where you don’t like people exercising their right to free speech (putting aside the fact that apart from Wilders’ occasional statements it’s difficult to see how Islam is “repeatedly insulted” in the Netherlands, which like most Western European countries has a pretty PC political culture) and protest the blasphemy by stabbing commuters at random.
And this morning in Cairo, a so far unnamed man tried to throw some sort of a home-made explosive/flammable device at the US embassy, instead setting his backpack on fire. As it is customary in Egypt, the man was set upon and beaten by the passers-by before the police turned up to arrest him. The Egyptians have a very low tolerance of wannabe-terrorists, whether their targets are Copts, Americans or Muslims.
For all this, I continue to strenuously maintain that international travel is safe (and that Cairo is probably safer than London, at least from terrorists, not the crazy local drivers) and fear of becoming a victim should not stop you from enjoying all that our amazing world has got to offer. Screw the jihadis – don’t let them win by keeping you at home, where instead you’re more likely to die from an iron falling on your head or getting electrocuted in a bathtub.