The world is in mourning, yet again. There seems to be no respite from the horrors in the world, both the acts of God and increasingly the ones borne out of the evil of mankind. ISIS has gone and slaughtered more innocents in the name of a cause that nobody, not even them, fully understands. In their delusion, they have claimed another victory for their senseless fight.
Over 100 people dead, with many severely injured. Poor souls held hostage, waiting their turn to be killed. The terror they must have felt is unimaginable, and my heart is so heavy. It has just been reported that one of the terrorists had a ticket for the match but was turned away from the stadium by security. These bile inducing people actually wanted to blow up a stadium. Hell is too kind.
I have come to dislike the saying “Rest in Peace” and its variations. Typing it out ever so often has made it lose whatever significance it had. It has no meaning to me anymore. Innocents torn apart by madmen, are being asked to rest in peace, knowing fully well that it is only a matter of time before the phrase will be dug up again to be used for another group of innocents.
A particularly irritating aftermath of these atrocities is the inevitable arguments that erupt on social media. A terrorist attack is not complete without the debates that come on the side. The one where people start looking for who to apportion blame to. The one where one side pronounces Islam the enemy of the universe and calls for the evaporation of all Muslims. The one where Muslims then feel the need to defend themselves from the unwarranted backlash. This happens so often that Muslims pre-emptively start the argument now. Once the news is broken that a suspected terrorist attack has occurred, the web is saturated with tweets ranging from those pleading for Muslims not to be blamed, to the ones saying things like “Well the KKK are Christians too…Christians have killed people too…One wet Thursday night in 1529, a Christian killed someone, why not talk about that?”
Both sides of the argument have become irksome to me. I personally have not seen calls for Muslims to be wiped off the surface of the earth, but I don’t doubt that the calls were made. Of what use is it to kill innocents for the offence of another? Randomly attacking people who have not done anything wrong because of you think that it is justified in some way? Whoa there buddy, art thou ISIS in disguise? It will never be okay. Nothing will ever justify that. We need to proffer a solution, not add to the bloodshed.
I would find it very weird if I saw a Muslim apologising for the actions of ISIS. What is the apology for? I do think that more could be done by Muslim communities and Muslim leaders to stop the radicalisation of the youth. But demanding an apology is ridiculous. Little Laila making sandcastles did not kill those people, neither did Yusra or Akeem who are as horrified as everyone else, and slightly uncomfortable with being under the spotlight yet again.
I do understand why Muslims want to remove themselves from the backlash, maybe even deflect a little by bringing up other instances. It is horrible to have to share blame for an atrocity that you have not and would never commit, simply because it was carried out by persons associated with a group you belong to. Muslims probably heard the news, sighed and thought, “Oh God I hope a Muslim is not responsible for this”. It is not unusual to want to prove that those people are not representative of the group, that they are the outliers. What does not make sense to me however is attempting to completely erase their membership of this group, as though that is the solution to the problem at hand. Just as I see no sense in attacking normal Muslims for these atrocities, I also find little sense in declaring that the members of ISIS are not Muslims.
Saying ISIS fighters are not Muslims is such a simplistic way of not addressing the issue. The important thing here is that they believe they are Muslims, they believe that they are fighting the good fight; they believe they are defending Islam and the Prophet. They believe that their actions are virtuous and they are willing to kill and be killed for this. They are willing to DIE for what they believe in. Do you understand how much conviction people need to have in their faith to be willing to be blown up into pieces for it?
There is the need to tone down the defensiveness. Yes other groups have done heinous things, but the focus is on now. What can be done about the situation now? Bringing up these things will not change anything. At best it will deflect from the pressing issue for a while, until it explodes and we have to face it again.
How are we going to deal with all of these terrorist groups? That is the question. How can we prevent more Boko Harams from popping up all over the place? It is all fine and dandy to blow up Bin Laden and Jihadi John and have everyone celebrate as if victory has been claimed and we can all sleep in peace, but how many jihadists are we going to blow up? It seems to me that for every person killed, there are legion waiting to take over. Is it too late to treat the problem at the root? By that, I mean can efforts be made to prevent more people from becoming Jihadists? Could Jihadi John have been averted? How long before Terrorist Terry assumes power, and people will say oh I know that boy, he was in my class/my neighbours son/attended my place of worship/was so quiet and unassuming/blah? Well of course people know him, of course he had a childhood, he did not drop from the sky.
The DailyMail ran an article of the father of one of the 7/7 bombers grieving at his gravesite. The intention was probably for people to spew hate, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the comments warm. How many parents are out there grieving because their babies deviated from the right path and became what they became? How many parents cannot even grieve in public because the child they are grieving over is not considered worthy of tears. How many parents have to deal with the utter confusion of seeing the stranger their child became, and the hurt of seeing people celebrate the death of said child?
Terrorists did not appear under a rock, fully formed and drenched in sin, they were once someone’s sinless little babies. A number of them become monsters because they came into contact with radicals who preached a message of hate and rewired their brains. Can this be prevented? How? How do radicals come in contact with the people they radicalise? Is it through the television? Internet? Mosque? Are they the bad men our parents warn us about, the ones who stand in dark alleys and offer sweets to malleable children? Perhaps these radicals operate fearlessly in the open; perhaps their views are not that radical to those around them. Is there a culture that tacitly supports, promotes even, these radical views?
Are there viable systems in place already to prevent the radicalisation of Muslim youth and the youth in general? I doubt it, as everyone is too busy allocating blame and arguing over whether the terrorists are Muslim or not. To be fair, I have read about some counter extremism efforts in Britain. The Prevent Strategy created in the wake of 9/11 is aimed at preventing people from becoming terrorists but has failed to achieve much, because how exactly do we prevent people from becoming terrorists? Some Muslims also feel that the campaign is islamophobic and contributes to the stigmatisation of Muslims.
Terrorism will not be defeated with just drones and fighter jets, the minds of the young ones need to be insulated from extreme ideologies. As I write this I ask myself if this is even possible. Religious extremism is so difficult to combat because religion is not seen as an ideology; it is taken as irrefutable fact. How do you deal with a person who is prepared to die? How can you punish someone who is walking into death, eyes wide open and a jubliant heart?There is no easy way out of this. The world is in deep shit, to say the least.
The most important role in fighting radicalisation goes to Muslims, but we all have a role to play. As we fight radical views, how can we help prevent anti-Muslim sentiments from spreading? Lots of opinions have been shared on these issues, and a common suggestion is for the integration of Muslim societies into the larger society. This does sound like a decent suggestion, but it will be hard to come to general agreement on what integration entails. If Muslims are “integrated” into larger society, will they cease to be seen as completely distinct alien entities, thus reducing the hate? To be honest, I doubt it. The truth is that the profiling of Muslims is inevitable in light of things. This is a burden borne by all minority groups; the actions of some taint all, an occurrence not exclusive to the West. The unfortunate reality is that with the way things are, the slightest hint of “Allahu Akbar” in say, a cinema will cause some panic, and I daresay even among the Muslims present.
I often wonder what will come to be of terrorism. Will it fizzle out, leaving a trail of sorrow in its wake? Will it persist till thy kingdom come? Will the world spontaneously combust? Will there be a third World War? Will we continue to argue about who is to blame as the world caves in and the enemy devours us all?
Nowhere is safe. Where can we go to be safe? One minute you are typing rest in peace prayforparis, the next minute you are one of those being asked to rest in peace, one of the soon to be forgotten. The thought is terrifying.
Side Note: I have complained about the rising stranglehold of political correctness. Political Correctness has its benefits, but nowadays one has to look both ways to gauge the general consensus before expressing an opinion, lest thou be smashed into smithereens by the coalition of the sensitive and the perpetually outraged. I saw someone be accused of racism and genocide because he called for the Jihadists to be stopped. I saw someone insult a person because of the crime of prematurely assuming the Paris attacks were the doing of ISIS. Now children, we have the ability to notice patterns and draw conclusions. If an attack the magnitude of what happened in Paris happens, it is not Islamophobic or racist to immediately suspect that it is ISIS, because in 2015, it most likely is. Of course it could turn out to be unrelated, but are we really going to pretend that ISIS did not immediately pop into our minds? Let us stop tripping over ourselves in an attempt to be the first to accuse people of this phobia or that ism. I secretly suspect that it is a farce, an act carried out to mask one’s true feelings. I wonder how many people are actually Islamophobic/racist/sexist but try to compensate for this by putting on a front and overzealously attacking others. These people are often the most dangerous.
An analysis of the Prevent Strategy and its problems
David Cameron’s counter terrorism strategy