London Police

Armed police on Borough High Street in London last night

I was originally intending to do a blog post about how Islam is portrayed in the media, especially after the horrors of the recent Manchester bombing by one Salman Abedi. I was hoping to highlight how this whole blood soaked issue is far more complex than the digital soundbites that are so prevalent all across Facebook, Twitter, and the rest. That was my intention. But then the attack in London happened.

In the late hours of Saturday 03rd June 2017 a white van deliberately mounted the pavement at London Bridge and ploughed into several pedestrians. The van then carried on to nearby Borough Market, where three Muslim men emerged from it and, armed with large knives, went running around the area killing indiscriminately. As I write this seven people, not including the three men, were reported dead. What happened to the men who brought this carnage to the streets of central London was that police officers shot them dead on those very streets. Within just a few hours the act had been officially declared by the Metropolitan Police as a terrorist incident.

As events still unfurl, as facts still disseminate, here are a few thoughts I would like to make…

Theresa May is 100% correct…

In the early hours of Sunday morning British Prime Minister Theresa May, emerging from an emergency COBRA meeting, made the following statement, which is worth watching in full:

We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. – Theresa May

This evil ideology is all about division…

May quite rightly pointed out that recent terror attacks are motivated by “the single evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism.”

That last point regarding sectarianism is scarily true, as recently pointed out by journalist Robert Fisk in a recent Independent article. In the article Fisk says the purpose of Trump’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia “is simple: to prepare the Sunni Muslims of the Middle East for war against the Shia Muslims. With help from Israel, of course.” It’s not just Trump and his cohorts who want to see this war (war does indeed equal big profits) but it’s also what ISIS desire.

This evil ideology really is a perversion of Islam…

May goes on to say that this ideology is one “that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy, and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth. Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time.”

She continues to say that the only real way to defeat this twisted ideology is “to turn people’s minds away from this violence and make them understand that our values, pluralistic British values, are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.”

I am happy to have those “difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations…”

She also made the following statement: “While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country. So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult, and often embarrassing, conversations.”

I personally have yet to meet one Muslim who espouses such hateful views as ISIS. Having said that, there do seem to be plenty who harbour these views (three of them were shot dead last night). I know in my heart that, if confronted by such an ideology, I would be more than confident in having the required “difficult and often embarrassing” conversation.

If I could have a conversation with the three men who did what they did I would ask them if they achieved what they were hoping for. Did they increase the status of Islam in the right direction? Are they now surrounded by the 72 virgins their evil twisted masters promised would be waiting for them?

We are all enemies of this enemy…

She ends her statement by saying: “It is time to say enough is enough…We must come together. We must pull together. And united we will take on and defeat our enemies.”

Those last two words are very interesting. The three men rampaging through London streets were all of our enemies. When they mounted the pavement they would not have cared if the group being mowed down were all Muslim. They were not asking anyone before stabbing them to clarify what religion they were. They were just killing as they saw fit. Muslims and non-Muslims alike are therefore equally at risk. They consider most Muslims in the West to be non-Muslims because we vote and we are immersed in the culture of the West.

I shall ignore the fact that most of these jihadi-wannabees are more than happy to claim benefits from the wretched British government they wish to overthrow, they are more than happy to send their kids to school, they are more than happy to use the full services of the NHS, and they are more than happy to push the limits of free speech offered to them by British law.

As I’ve said before, hate comes in different shapes and sizes…

Before anyone cries “false equivalency” I am in no way trying to justify or equate the actions of last night by deferring attention to other groups. However, it should be said that hate is everywhere and it does indeed come in all different shapes and sizes (as I mentioned in my last blog post). Just to give one example, check out these disturbing pictures from a recent pro-Nazi rally in America, where there seems to be a real right wing storm brewing all thanks to Trump.

This really happened…

If you go on YouTube and type in ‘false flag’ and filter it to ‘Today’, you will see there are already plenty of opinions that say this is indeed a false flag operation, i.e. the government did this for some nefarious reason. My wife was telling me there are many Muslims on her Facebook feed who agree to this notion by suggesting Theresa May planned this event just before the election in order to get more votes.

Let me categorically say that this happened and no amount of self-denial will distract from the fact that three Muslim men murdered several innocent people, all in the name of Islam. We Muslims need to move away from conspiracy theories and deal with the truth. Maybe our weakness for conspiracy theories is a reason why some of us so easily fall prey to these twisted ideologies.

This really isn’t about Islam…

For those wanting to blame Islam itself, I would argue that Islam is a victim in all of this (how can a victim also be the perpetrator?). A good example of how such a conversation goes down took place on Friday evening, a day before these attacks, when American talk show host and atheist Bill Maher, on his talk show Real Time, again strongly inferred that the terrorist threat we all face in the west comes from Islam itself, which apparently has some form of death spiral built into its ideology. Thank Allah that author and journalist Rebecca Traister was there to counter this narrative. Traister responded thusly, implying that the fundamentalist threat applies to more than just Muslims and Islam:

The threat is human beings who have an impulse toward oppression, violence, and bias, and who look to all kinds of fundamentalist religions to offer them a framework to justify it. – Rebecca Traister

I would add to this the views of journalist Thaslima Begum who in a recent article made the following points about ISIS and the people they kill:

How many Muslims do Isis, al-Qaeda, the Taliban and others need to kill for us to realise that perhaps Islam isn’t the problem?…There will be no one minute silence to pay tribute to the victims of Isis’s latest murder rampage. No “I heart Baghdad” captions or #JesuisKabul hashtags. But the atrocities that struck both of these cities are just as devastating as the attack that recently took place in Manchester…This week’s latest terror attacks remind us that most of Isis’s victims in fact belong to the religion it claims to represent. It is important to note that the vast majority of Muslims not only condemn Isis but bear the brunt of its brutality. There is a sad irony in how the group which has the largest number of victims of terrorism are often blamed for it. – Thaslima Begum, independent.co.uk, 01 Jun 2017

Us Brits have seen this all before…

For those of old enough, cast your minds back just a few decades. Back then Britain was also under terrorist threats, but these threats emanated from Ireland under the guise of the IRA. Back then the British populace was smart enough to realise that not all Irish people were terrorists, not all Catholics were twisted, and Catholicism itself was not the root cause of the issues.

Many British families back then new Irish people, or lived next door to Irish people, or were part Irish, or had Irish people in their families. Is this modern wave of terrorism not similar? Replace Irish with Muslim and Catholicism with Islam.

Most Brits at least work with or know a Muslim. And what about Muslim icons like Mo Farah, Amir Khan, and London mayor Sadiq Khan? Surely there is enough of Islam and Muslims in modern British society to remind us that ‘we’ (the majority) are not the problem, instead it is ‘them’ (the twisted minority) who are.

Let Riz Ahmed rap some sense into this…

I was originally going to blog about this Riz Ahmed rap, and I think I still will as it seems more poignant than ever. Ahmed is no stranger to openly speaking about politics. Just last month Time magazine put Ahmed on its cover, listing him as one of the one hundred most influential people currently alive. High praise indeed.

Riz Ahmed Time

Anyways, I will end this lengthy blog post with the always brilliant Riz Ahmed listing the subtle complexities involved in this dark and murderous issue…

In these sour times
Please allow me to vouch for mine
Bitter taste in my mouth, spit it out with a rhyme
Hey yo I’m losing my religion to tomorrow’s headlines
Guantanamo – sorry bro?
Nah, nothing, it’s fine

And in this post 7/7
Why they calling it that?
They’re trying to link it to New York
Like we’re all under attack from the same big bad guy
But it’s taking the mick
Because the truth is Al Qaeda hardly even exists
There ain’t no super villain planning these attacks from some base
The truth is so much scarier and harder to face
See, there’s thousands of angry young men that are lost
Sidelined in the economy, a marginal cost
They think there’s no point in putting ballots up in the box
They got no place in this system, and no faith in its cogs
They’re easy targets, that be getting brainwashed by these knobs
Who say that spilling innocent blood is pleasing a God
Well, it sounds good when you don’t see no justice or jobs
The gas bills are piling up, but all the oil’s getting robbed
So David’s taking out Goliath, and his wife and his dog
Segregated, castrated, now we see who’s on top!
So see, it ain’t religious faith that’s causing these crimes
It’s losing faith in democratic free market designs
It’s no coincidence that bombers came from ghettos up north
And the way that Bush and Blair talked gave a lost boy a cause
Then double standards get ’em angered, both at home and abroad
There’s a monopoly on pens that’s why they forge their own swords
They’re misguided, turned violent, strapped themselves up with bombs
But they’re still cowards, ’cause they ain’t here when the backlash is on

So in these sour times
Please allow me to vouch for mine
Bitter taste in my mouth, spit it out with a rhyme
Hey yo I’m losing my religion to tomorrow’s headlines
Abu Ghraib – sorry mate?
Nah, nothing, it’s fine

So all the mans that wanna say that my religion has to change
That we’re stuck in a bygone age
It’s time to set the vinyl straight
Don’t you think it’s kind of strange that all this terror outrage
These last gasp castaways
These bastards that will blast away
Turned up in the last decade?
When Islam has been the way for millions
From back in the day?
Instead of thinking that we’re crazed
Investigate just what it says
Fast, help the poor, and pray
Go Mecca, be steadfast in faith
That’s the basics, that’s the base
So how did we get here today?
Well, interpretations always change
Today, they’re read with rage
Been jihad-ened up
Desperation’s kinda fucked
Makes you use a book of peace as weapons in Iraq
So listen, terrorism isn’t caused by religion or an old school vision of Islam
It’s against the Qur’an, it’s a new innovation caused by mash-up situations
That’s what makes them turn to arms
The problem is modern and it’s all local factors
Dictatorships, injustices and wars cause fatwa’s

So in these sour times
Please allow me to vouch for mine
Bitter taste in my mouth, spit it out with a rhyme
Hey yo I’m losing my religion to tomorrow’s headlines
But it’s fine

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