Why Muslims are mourning

The events of 15th March 2019, where 50 innocent men, women and children were murdered in cold blood will go down as one of New Zealand’s darkest days. Like all terrorist attacks of this calibre we go through extreme emotions of shock, anger, sadness and grief. Over whelming grief. Yes we are a community in mourning. Why has this particular terrorist attack shaken us to our core? Let me explain.

Muslims are mistreated and killed day in, day out because of war and terrorism. Whether in Kashmir, in Syria, in Pakistan, in Yemen, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Myanmar, or China  we endure it. Sometimes they also die in mosques. We feel sadness, me may donate money or sign a few petitions. We say prayers for the victims. We do what we can sitting in lands far away. But this grief, following New Zealand, is new and it’s raw and I’m trying to work out why.

It seems that most non-Muslims on Facebook and Instagram are not affected by it like Muslims are. This may seem unfair but the fact that very, very few non-Muslims in the public eye and just regular people in Britain have shared anything about the New Zealand terror attack, really hurts. Words matter, and support through a difficult time is always appreciated. The notion that ‘now they know how we feel’ which I’ve seen in comments under many posts is not as hurtful as those people simply not acknowledging it. Even Facebook hasn’t offered me a filter for my profile photo or a flag, like they did for the Manchester or Paris attacks. 

Please don’t think for a minute that Muslims are immune to terror attacks. Don’t for a minute think this is a first for the Muslim community. Don’t for a minute think that the ‘shoe is on the other foot’. No. According to the Stop the War coalition, the US led war on terror has killed two million Muslims since 9/11. That’s right two million, so don’t for one moment think that Muslims don’t know about death.

When 7/7 happened and 52 people were killed on the London Underground we were upset and angry as much as anybody else. Remember Muslims die in all terror attacks in non-Muslim lands. We are not exempt. We go to concerts, we use public transport so we are a target too. But in this case we were targeted exclusively. Like the nine black Christian worshippers in Charleston, South Carolina, these people were murdered whilst praying. When we’re praying we are vulnerable and detached from our surroundings. To target a group of worshippers is so cowardly and so personal to me. My husband and son go to Friday prayers. It’s such a normal thing to do. One of the victims, fourteen year old Sayyad even looks like my son. So yes it’s personal and yes I feel it. And I know the majority of Muslims who live outside of Muslim countries feel the same.

The truth is Muslims are battered from every angle. Whether it’s from groups like ISIS or Al-Qaeda or from white supremacists, we are in the firing line every time. And if not a target for violence we are spoken about on social media like a worthless community. Too long the media with their inflammatory headlines have gotten away with demonising an entire religion and it’s followers.

Many young Muslims, born in the era of post 9/11 have felt victimised, experienced racism and anti-muslim hatred all their lives. With headlines like ‘Muslim schools ban our culture’ to ‘Muslim plot to kill the pope’, is there any wonder why some of the general public fear and dislike Muslims? These headlines are fuelling white supremacists and legitimising Islamophobia. According to the Cambridge University Press “For every one moderate Muslim mentioned, 21 examples of extremist Muslims are mentioned in the British press”.

Says it all really, and if you want to see the hatred from the comfort of your home then you just have to go on to a tabloid newspaper’s Facebook page under any article to do with Muslims and you will see it clearly. You only have to go on Twitter to see how many proud ‘Islamophobes’ there are who put in their bio that they are Islamophobic, and this is their main purpose and what their tweets are mainly about.

Thankfully I’ve also found solitude in Twitter where so many tweets from non-Muslims have shown me that people do care and there are many who realise the subliminal anti-Muslim sentiment that some of the press has been espousing. Whilst it is being acknowledged, things need to change. It’s time that not just Muslims, but others call out the anti-Muslim sentiment that is present in our society today. Because there hasn’t been the Facebook and Instagram outcry that usually follows a large-scale terror attack, extremists have been inspired to attack Muslims in London and one outside a mosque. It’s time to stand up to anti-Muslim rhetoric and treat it in the same manner as other types of hate speech. Don’t let it go unquestioned, don’t ignore it, because people need to be held accountable for their words. 

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The Syrian Problem

Talk of bombing Syria breaks my heart. Syria which used to be a beacon of culture and history in the Middle East is now a place of destruction and war. With 11 million of its citizens fleeing, Syria is in a mess. In order to solve any  problem we need to look at the root cause.

The civil war in Syria started during the Arab Spring where groups of normal Syrians started protesting about the dictatorship of Bashar Al Assad. As Assad’s army started becoming heavy handed with its own citizens, shooting and killing them because they were rebelling against the government, groups started forging, and fighting against Assad’s forces.  Free Syria Army was one of the groups armed with weapons from America and Britain. Another one of those groups were Daesh (Islamic State) who were also fighting against Assad’s oppression and force. Fast forward three years and Daesh have conquered areas in Iraq and Syria, and putting it simply have lost the plot. With their violent tactics they’ve somehow managed to make Assad look like a good guy. When in fact he is not. He’s slaughtered more Syrians than Daesh have, and also used chemical weapons.

This is one of the main reasons I object to air strikes in Syria. In essence we are helping Assad (aka the Butcher) because we are trying to defeat his enemy too. Let’s not forget David Cameron wanted to wipe Assad out in 2013 because of the sheer butchery he’d imposed on his own people.

Another reason is that thought Cameron says there’s an end plan and strategy, he hasn’t said what. He’s acknowledged that we need to get rid of Assad after they’ve dealt with Daesh, but let’s be realistic, how will that happen with Russia supporting him? Will we have the resources? How can that happen without ground troops? We’ve been bombing Iraq for over a year and all that’s happened is that Paris, Tunisia, Beirut and Mali to name a few have been targets, not forgetting the Russian passenger plane departing Sharm El Sheikh.

I still believe dropping bombs will not only be counter productive, it will be a waste of money, not to mention the ‘collateral damage’ ie. more Syrian deaths. It’s a symbolic act of alliance to France, America and now Germany too to go ahead with the bombing. Taking a chance with our security just so our PM can join in with the big boys is irresponsible. There is no evident terror threat from Daesh in the UK. That’s something that has been confirmed, the evidence is insufficient. Yes Paris happened, but Paris is in France, who has been involved in military action in Syria and Iraq for a while now.

I fear that an attack will take place here after Britain join in with air strikes in Syria. I really hope I’m wrong but this move will make it inevitable.

So if we don’t bomb Syria, what should we do?

My answer is that we should withdraw all our troops from Iraq and Syria. In fact withdraw them from all Middle Eastern lands. If Daesh’s war is about reestablishing a warped version of the caliphate then let them. Because in reality they’re not going to get very far — the people don’t want their version of a militant, violent Islam, it just won’t happen. Kurdish fighters from Turkey are already fighting them on the ground. Let Turkey fight them. If they look east let Iran deal with them. On the other side is Jordan, Lebanon,  Saudia Arabia, Israel and Egypt— all countries that are equipped to deal with them. They all have armies, why does Britain and the Allies have to meddle and be involved? Let them have it out. It’s this meddling for decades that has led to the uprising of Daesh.

It may seem radical to suggest such a thing but it’s the only way to make this country safe, long term. If you want to preserve our security here in Britain then get our troops out. Their beef with the West is all about this — occupation.

The other solution is a diplomatic one or one which cuts off their supply to arms and money. Who is buying oil from Daesh? If it’s Turkey, then talk to Turkey. If it’s Saudi supplying weapons then talk to Saudi, after all they’re an Ally.  If it’s not their governments but individuals, then apply pressure on those governments to get that intelligence and do something to stop it. The reality is that there are solutions but the Conservatives want to go to war. They want the kudos and they want benefits which come from war — defence contracts and another foothold in the Middle East.

Tomorrow the government will hold the vote to see how many MPs in Parliament will back air strikes in Syria. If they vote yes which seems to be what is predicted then this is sending the wrong message to Daesh, one of violence and revenge, one that is inviting them to come and retaliate here on our soil.

War should always be the last resort, not the first.

 

 

 

Boris Johnson Has Lost The Plot

The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wrote in his column for the Telegraph that he thinks children of ‘radical Islamic extremists’ should be taken away and put into the care system. Right Mr. Mayor what a lovely idea, but what in your mind constitutes a radical extremist?

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