Concert attack prompts culture and values row

Heartbroken: Last night Ariana Grande suspended her “Dangerous Woman” tour. © Getty

Monday’s atrocity in Manchester was an attack on music and female empowerment — things the West holds dear. Yesterday some said it should do more to defend its way of life. Are they right?

On Monday night a man set off a bomb at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. Twenty-two people died. A group called Islamic State said it carried out the attack.

Grande is a young woman who wears stockings and bunny ears. She is a very popular pop star who has 106m followers on Instagram and over 46m on Twitter. Islamic State hates pop music and powerful or liberated women.

Yesterday many said this was an attack on a way of life. In the Daily Mail, James Harkin wrote that Islamic State was at war with “the values we all live by”.

In The Telegraph, the historian Andrew Roberts said that western countries did not do enough to defend their own culture or history. “We must say to the terrorists that we are better than them,” he wrote.

In recent years some leaders in Europe have tried to force people from different backgrounds to fit into their societies. These include Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and David Cameron, the previous UK prime minister.

Last year Germany passed a law which meant some immigrants who did not learn German would have welfare payments reduced. In 2006 Gordon Brown, who was then the prime minister, said the UK should hold a “Britain Day” every year.

But some prefer to do things differently. For example in 2015 Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said there was “no core identity” in Canada.


We should be proud of the way we live, say some. Attacks like this remind us that Western countries are better than others. Their cultures can bring together people who already live there and others who come in.

That will not work, others reply. We should not mind if others live differently. It is very difficult to know what our way of life is. Silly ideas like “Britain Day” do not change anything. Western countries should try something else.

You Decide

  1. Do you feel proud of the country you live in?


  1. Work in pairs. For two minutes, list words and phrases which describe the way people live in your country. Choose the best five and discuss: should they be true about everyone?

Some People Say...

“There is no such thing as a better set of values.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
The man who set the bomb off, Salman Abedi, was a British 22-year-old. His parents were from Libya. His family moved from London to Manchester, where lots of Libyan people live, before he was born.
What do we not know?
How and when he decided to fight for Islamic State. Yesterday some people who knew him said they had worried about his opinions for a long time.

Word Watch

This was a suicide bomb, which means the person carrying it killed himself when it went off.
Terrorists have attacked musical events before. On new year’s eve last year, they bombed a nightclub in Turkey, killing 39 people.
Islamic State
A group which calls for a holy war so it can force everyone to live under its version of Islam.
Roberts said British history teaching led people to feel hatred of their own countries and guilt.
People who come into a country to live there.

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