The Girl From Barra

For the second time in two weeks, the flags on Tristan da Cunha were at half mast. In both cases this was an expression of solidarity over the atrocities in the UK – Manchester and London. The vile Manchester bombing, and the idiotic murders in London, have rocked the people here.

It is a reminder as to how very British this island is, even though Britain lies some 6,000 miles further North. This ultra-remote island is one of the British Overseas Territories, and its origins go back to the time in the first years of the 1800’s when there was a British garrison here. The people here are very loyal to the Queen, and in many respects they are more British than the British.

From the perspective of the people of this remote island, it is even more difficult to understand the wave of ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ attacks than it is for other people around the world. Their thinking is:- how is it that people can move to another country that is generous enough to offer them shelter, then for these people to take all the benefits they can in terms of free housing, unemployment benefit, free medical care, and so on, and then turn round and bite the hand that has for so many years fed them? Even worse, and even more hypocritical, is to go out on a murder rampage and pretend it is in the name of Islam.

The truth of the matter is that the murder of innocent individuals has nothing to do with Islam. The Koran expressly forbids such actions. There is however a provision that gives soldiers who are carrying out a military action, as decided on by social and religious leaders, the expectation of enormous privileges and pleasures in the afterlife if they die in the name of Allah. The modern self-styled fundamentalists are breaking the rules. Just because they cry out “In the name of Allah” as they carry out their atrocities does not at all give them the backing of the religion. They might as well cry out “on the name of Pooh Bear” or “In the name of Alice in Wonderland”

One trouble is that Islam does not have a pyramidal hierarchy. It has no Pope, no Archbishop. And no single person within the faith is standing up and saying (as they would on Tristan) “Not in my name, Buddy”

I am not at all anti-Islam. For fifteen years I worked in four different countries in the Arabian Peninsula. Indeed, in Saudi Arabia one farm I was developing was on the outskirts of the holy city of Mecca. And to drive to Hail where we had another farm, I had to drive through the holy city of Medinah. But I feel that if the diverse and widespread leaders of Islam do not stand up together to expose the hypocrisy of the fundamentalists, then Islam itself will come under unprecedented pressure from the outside world. Otherwise, they as a whole will be tarred with the same brush as their idiotic traitors. There is a saying “If you are not part of the cure, you are part of the problem”.

Coming from the west coast of Scotland, and having forbears who lived for generations as part of small island communities, I relate strongly to the Western Isles. Way out in the Outer Hebrides, there lies a tiny remote island called Barra. Some weeks ago, a young Barra girl called Eilidh McLeod made the journey of a lifetime to travel all the way to Manchester to enjoy a concert by her musical heroine called Ariana Grande. There, as a result of a universal traitor, she lost her life.

We look out from our house on our remote island deep in the south Atlantic, looking past the half-mast flags and out over the sea to the north. And we are deeply conscious of how desperate it must now be for the people of the community of the remote island of Barra, who have lost one of their precious children.