For month’s governments, journalists, armchair and expert pundits alike have been warning of the potential for Daesh (IS) terror attacks in the west, now sadly they have all been proven, to varying degrees to be right, as the world faces up to the latest atrocities claimed by Daesh carried out this last week in France, Egypt and Lebanon. They were without doubt as various leaders stated, attacks on humanity.
These bestial attacks were condemned rightly so, without reservation across the Islamic and the wider world by leading religious leaders, Governments and heads of State but equally by thousands of ordinary Muslims, all of whom expressed their own condemnation passionately dissociating themselves and Islam from the dogma embraced by these barbaric extremists. It seems that despite this and largely balanced reporting in the press however once again we also saw on social media and in commentaries a rise of Anti-Muslim Islamophobic rhetoric. Even Donald Trump commented that he would strongly consider shutting down mosques in response to the Paris attacks. Will the victims families be reassured in anyway by such inane comments, when genuine words of condolence are missing.
Surprised, no not really but it does leads to several question that needs to be asked. Firstly why it is that much of this saber rattling, ignorant Islamophobic ranting’s emanating from the anonymity of cyberspace or in commentary particularly from the US, the condemnation of an entire religion, is claimed justifiable by many who bizarrely assert that this constitutes an individuals Right to Freedom of Expression. This is absolute bullsh-t.
Do people not see that the purveyors of such reciprocal hate use the same jingoistic poisonous language, as do the terrorists in their actions, these purveyors are no better, their bigotry is in fact far worse? They assist the very substance of the terrorist’s aims in many communities, of creating an atmosphere of fear, of pushing more and more people in defense of their simple beliefs into cubbyholes, into corners where radicalization becomes a possibility even the touted, accepted retaliatory option. The purveyors of this sickening reciprocal hatred feed on the crime. They seem to delight in fermenting, in aiding the continuing cycle of violence and providing sustenance to the terrorists by stigmatizing an entire religion. Many are fully aware that their ravings, like the terrorists’ atrocities do have serious consequences, which makes rantings in my opinion criminal, certainly not a “Right”.
I often wonder if people’s reciprocal hatred stems from personal insecurity or uncertainty in the validity of their own values and beliefs. I have spent a working lifetime earning a living in the Islamic world without ever having to deny I have a minimalist attitude to organized religion and beliefs of any faith. I am well known for calling a spade a spade and remain as opinionated as ever yet never once have I ever been condemned for either. I feel pity for those that think the case otherwise, that believe that the Islamic world is as a consequence of Islam alone, the poorer partner. Ignorance is not bliss it is evil, it is the very antithesis of democracy. As was written by James Mennie, in the Montreal Gazette “because as barbaric, inhuman and cowardly as these murders were, what makes them truly terrifying is how easy it seems to have been to commit them,” - should we allow therefore, that reality to cloud our vision, to condemn 1.6 billion people as a consequence?
Neither do I think the victims of terrorism should compete for the short attention spans of social media or conversely suffer the indignities of so many misguided and confused responses from people who really don’t know why they should sincerely care. Which leads to my second question; where was all this indignation, outrage, and sympathy when 147 students where killed, massacred by al-Shabaab militants virtually in their beds at Garrisa in Kenya. I don’t recall it. A clear example of how little attention is paid to attacks when they happen outside of the West, selective outrage as some have called it. Can we cynically assume therefore that for many in the west, their pain is discriminatory? That distance and familiarity determines outrage, the occasion when a sympathetic tweet, or media comment is deemed a necessity in the attainment of a convenient media poppy, a badge to be worn that provides temporary absolution from the need to act consistently as they selectively profess their outrage on line.
The vast majority of my friends are locals Arabs, good honest Muslims, fundamentalist some would say in that they explicitly believe and practice the full tenets of Islam. So what I say; of the vast majority of Muslims worldwide that is the norm. Are those of other religions, Catholics for instance considered lesser people, fundamentalists because of their profound beliefs or unwavering faith? The violent views and values of a few Islamic extremists such as the followers of Daesh, Al Qaeda, even Hezbollah, percentage wise are a very small minority. They do not represent either the Islamic religion or the majority of those that follow in that faith. The majority are as you and I, just ordinary people with the same aspirations. They wish no more than to live in peace, to improve their lot, to give their families and their children a better future, one with hope and dignity guided by the tenets of their faith. Those tenets are simple, Al-Shahadah (Testimony), Al-Salah (Prayer), Al-Siyam (Fasting), Al-Zakat (Almsgiving), Al Hajj (The Pilgrimage), for me that’s not a lot to ask or to expect.
To conclude for those still looking for the root of all the worlds’ current ills I would suggest therefore they look closer to home, don’t seek to single out an entire religion to place the blame but rather cast their eyes over the continuous failure of their own western governments foreign policy over this last century, not just here in the Middle East but elsewhere in the world.
The world long ceased to be a board game with a single country acting as both banker and jailer however, you only have to follow the ceaseless armchair and mainstream commentary, the social media purveyors of hate, to realize that there are many out there that still think Monopoly is the game in hand.