We have all by now read of the outrage across the world at the hideous murder of the Jordanian Pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. A murder stage-managed by a heinous and barbarous enemy - Daesh or Islamic State. It was a murder in my opinion intended to shock, to erode our faith in humanity, to shake to the very foundations the last vestiges of tolerance towards Islam in the west. To generate and ferment an anti-Islamic backlash. In the sick minds of the recruiting agents of Daesh the greater the pain, the consequential retribution inflicted on Muslims in the west, the greater their tangential success in driving a wedge between the world religions. To Daesh it was a beneficial exercise in molding, warping and twisting, of creating the context for the generation of fertile breeding grounds for further potential overseas recruits prepared to fight in their name, on either home or foreign fronts.
It is a strategy that is succeeding, one only has to view the malicious tirade currently being pursued against anything Islamic to realize that. It is a strategy based on the fact that people in the west always miss the point, will claim moral superiority to malign other people who engage in such despicable behavior and will use collective punishment as retribution as a consequence. As someone who has spent half their life living and working in the Middle East not only in Bahrain, let me assure you there is nothing Islamic about Daesh. They have perverted a religion; have perverted humanity in their cause. A fact people of faith constantly reiterate but nevertheless it is they, the true faithful, that find themselves being punished and held responsible. For the real blame we must look to ourselves collectively, and our own inability to learn from history.
In my youth I remember only too well of seeing pictures of black people lynched in America, of television screens filled with the horrors of the Vietnam War, of race riots, dramatic images of a President and later students at an anti war rally being gunned down before my eyes. They are as vivid as my memories of growing up poor, of playing in the bombed out streets of London and of rationing. Of watching the last throws of empire from the Suez crisis, the Mau Mau in Kenya, to communist insurgents in Malaya on Newsreels at the cinema. But one of my most intense memories is however of one of tears, of sitting with my mother looking at an old family photo album and realizing that my very existence was in part down to good luck and parents that survived a War while so many of my own relatives did not. It was then I realized that religion and God has no hand in war and all its resultant evils; war is purely the work of men using belief as an excuse.
It is when I look at photographs of myself in the 60's attending my first and last protest rally, a “Ban the Bomb march” that I look back and ask myself, what has changed in all that time that justifies the current moral indignation we now see in the west. I read recently that lynch mobs had been replaced by militarized police forces and the world is no safer now than when I grew up.
So to answer my own question, what has changed, when you take a closer look “Not a lot”.