Tower Fire

As always we live in strange days indeed, especially if you are Muslim. No sooner had we seen Muslims play the role of mass murderers in Manchester and London, we now find them playing the roles of innocent victims and heroes at Grenfell Tower in London.

The first victim from this horrific inferno in Kensington was named as Mohammed Alhajali, a 23 year old Syrian refugee. Many of the victims named so far (30 and counting) were Muslim, and many of the families who have lost their homes and their entire belongings were also Muslim.

The Muslim world is currently in the second half of the month of Ramadhaan, a month of patience, where you try your damnedest to control your anger, to keep your emotions in check. I find it gut-wrenchingly difficult to do that whilst watching the carnage on my TV screen. Allah only knows how hard it must be for the families involved. Hearts all over the world have gone out to the victims of this tragedy. The heat of the fire may have been felt a few blocks away, but the after-effects are still being felt throughout the world. Only today we had scenes of local residents storming the local town hall chanting ‘We want justice’. This one is definitely not over.

The fire in the tower block was also a chilling reminder of scenes from the 9/11 tragedy: bellowing black smoke, raging out of control fires, distressed onlookers, exhausted fire fighters, trapped victims calling for help from windows, and people jumping out of windows to avoid the heat. Except this time many victims were Muslim and many of those trying to help were Muslims coming back from their nightly Ramadhaan prayers. Another 9/11 effect has emerged from conspiracy theorists asking why this tower block in London has not fallen despite burning for well over 24 hours, yet the tower blocks in New York fell within just a few hours. Not really sure how to respond to such stupidity.

Tower Looking
Local residents watch as Grenfell Tower is engulfed by fire.

The government, essentially a bunch of very rich white people, has called for a full inquiry into why some very poor people (many non-white) needlessly lost their lives in one of the most affluent areas on planet earth. We wait with baited breath to read the white washed findings. And whilst legal phrases like ‘corporate manslaughter’ are being bandied across the media landscape, here is the rapper Akala giving his reasons and analysis as to what happened and why:

Despite the fact that Muslims are currently seen in a sympathetic light due to this fire (even Piers Morgan had some nice words to say about us on morning TV), racism and Islamophobia continue to dramatically increase in the western world. Allah alone knows just how much of it there is out there right now, and it only seems to be getting worse. I myself am subject to it at the moment but, with the help and patience provided to me by Allah, I am hoping it will be okay in the end.

To add to the confusion surrounding how people think of Muslims, over in America we have Trump accusing the Qataris of funding terrorists and then a few weeks later selling them $12 billion of weapons. I wish that Trump, who John Oliver recently described as “a walking logical paradox”, would make his mind up. One minute he’s trying to ban Muslims from coming to America, the next minute he’s in Saudi dancing with a sword.

Another incident in the States that is causing me much annoyance is the recent shooting where a middle aged white guy named James Hodgkinson opened fire on a group of Republican congressmen as they played baseball on the outskirts of Washington. As per usual, no mention of the word ‘terrorist’ due to the light hue of the shooter. Must. Remain. Calm. It is Ramadhaan after all.

In order to counter this rising Islamophobia and the messy portrayal of Muslims in the media please find below proof, as if any more proof were needed, that what happened in Manchester and London has nothing to do with Islam.

Whilst it is always better to read the full articles, below we have quotes from three articles, one featuring Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, another brilliantly listing why Muslims hate extremists more than non-Muslims, and the third asking why the recent shooting in America is not deemed a terrorist act. I know these quotes are a lot but I hope you read them as I feel they add much needed nuance to all the mis-dis-information swirling around out there…

Britain Needs To Reset Relations With Its Muslims, Insists Warsi

Mark Townsend, 11 Jun 2017, theguardian.com

When things go wrong with an iPhone or a coffee machine, pressing the restart button is usually a good, safe place to start. Right now, Britain’s relationship with her Muslims is within that frozen, overloaded, splurging episode – we need to press the button. – Sayeeda Warsi

There are far more Muslim doctors in Britain than terrorists, yet the community is not defined by the reputation of its daily life-savers, it’s defined by the reputation of ad hoc life-takers. – Sayeeda Warsi

The Muslim community might be seen as the enemy within now, but it’s only the latest in a long list of others that have been seen as such, starting with Catholics, Jews, blacks, the Irish, the miners, socialists. We’re just the latest in a long line. – Sayeeda Warsi

Why British Muslims Hate Extremism More Than You Do

Aaliyah Hussain, 06 Jun 2017, huffingtonpost.co.uk

Let’s get one thing straight – British Muslims hate terrorism and extremism as much British non-Muslims, if not more, and we talk about it a lot more.

Firstly, we are just as likely to be caught up in a terrorist incident as non-Muslims, and so are no less afraid of terrorist attacks and no less horrified by them.

We are more likely to be part of the medical teams that help save lives of victims, as we make up a large proportion of NHS workers.

However, we are the ones who are blamed for being ‘part of the problem’, as this is how the government presents the issue. What they don’t say is that we are also the victims of terrorism, and to a much larger extent than non-Muslims.

It is our children that are being targeted for recruitment, to blow themselves up, to fight and die in wars abroad, to commit crimes that will end up in their death or incarceration.

It is our children who are being treated like criminals at younger and younger ages, by teachers, social workers and the culture of mistrust and paranoia fostered by the PREVENT programme.

British Muslims are much more likely than non-Muslims to be affected by terrorism abroad; we have relatives living in places facing far worse terrorist attacks, on a much more regular basis and bigger scale.

What many people don’t realise it that 95% of people killed by ‘Islamic’ extremists are Muslim. So how is it conceivable that we are somehow ok with it? We are more scared, more sad and more angry.

Not only are we victims of ‘Islamic’ extremism at home and abroad, but we also have to contend with racism and right-wing extremism on our doorstep. It is our faith that has been conflated to such an extent with terrorism that now identifying as a Muslim comes laden with stigma and fear of being discriminated against, or worse, accused of being an apologist for terrorism.

We are the ones who feel the full force of a racist backlash each time a terrorist attack happens. We are the ones who are made to feel guilty, on the defensive, anxious that our children will be picked on in the playground, or that our colleagues are whispering behind our backs. We are the ones who are abused, sworn at, spat at, pushed, punched, kicked, beaten and even killed on British streets. Our homes and places of worship are petrol-bombed and have faeces posted through their doors.

These acts are no more a universal British problem than terrorism is a Muslim problem. So please understand this – we are even more gutted than you are when a terror attack happens. We don’t just have the fear of terrorism, but the fear of collective punishment as well.

We are as British as you so are please feel our pain, and not make us the enemy. We have a common enemy, one that is hard to fight, and it is scary. But we are even more scared than you.

Why Didn’t Donald Trump Call The White Man Who Shot Congressman Steve Scalise In Virginia A Terrorist?

James Moore, 16 Jun 2017, independent.co.uk

Trump repeatedly criticised Obama for failing to use the phrase ‘radical Islamic terrorism’, yet today he was reticent to use the term ‘terrorist’ for politically motivated violence. The truth is that James Hodgkinson had a lot in common with Isis-inspired terrorists. – James Moore

Everyone knows that you only need to scratch someone with a Middle Eastern background to find the terrorist lurking within. That’s why it’s necessary to ban them from travelling to the US, and the judges need to realise that. Unless they hold Saudi passports. The Saudis are our friends, you see. – James Moore

What is notable about the lamentable James Hodgkinson is just how similar elements in his background are to some of the Isis-inspired terrorists who have perpetrated attacks on the West in recent months, and also to some of those on the opposite side of the political divide who have done the same. Like them, he was a misfit. A man with a record of petty criminality, and of domestic violence: a feature strikingly common to those engaging in terrorism, or whatever kind. – James Moore

President Trump repeatedly criticised former President Obama for failing to use the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism”. Yet he seems strangely reluctant to use the term “terrorist” when the perpetrators of politically motivated violence are white, regardless of whether they are on the left or the right. I’m not seeking to downplay the threat posed by Islamist-related political violence. I abhor it, and its apologists. I think we are too tolerant of those that fund the ideology that gives birth to it, and entirely too keen to distribute weapons to some of those who quietly support it around the Middle East. I’d simply point out that it is not the only form of political violence at large in the world today. So why is Donald Trump – and often the media too – so quick to label some people terrorists, and to tar millions of entirely innocent people with the same brush in the process, but strangely reluctant to do it with others? – James Moore


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