I meant to publish this post a week after the Islamic terrorist attack in the northern capital. In the end, here I am weeks later doing it. This does not matter. What matters is that the world is ever changing and happy and unhappy incidents happen all the time, nonstop. I would have never guessed that delaying my post some days would mean that I would have to write about two instead of one Islamic terrorist attack in the UK.
Two Islamic terrorist attacks in less than two weeks
The Manchester Arena terrorist attack took place the 22nd of May 2017 at around 22:30 a suicide bomber detonated a homemade bomb. Packed with nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel, the device exploded in the foyer area of the Manchester Arena, after Ariana Grande’s concert (Dangerous Woman Tour). Ariana is greatly popular among teenagers and her 14.200 tickets for the concert sold out. The fact that many children and teenagers were at the concert made this incident particularly vicious.
The Manchester Arena terrorist attack has been the deadliest in the United Kingdom since the 7 July 2005 London bombings.
You go on the internet and you find their families, friends and the world saddened in the deep sorrow of the innocent lives lost. My thoughts are with you and with anyone who has lost a beloved one in an unexpected way.
It is hard to be a Muslim nowadays, but even harder to be a young Muslim
I want to explore briefly why we should not fear but appreciate and love Muslims to make the world a better place.
In my personal experience, I know very closely some Muslims, my brother-in-law, my nephews, my niece. My sister is an atheist. They bring their children up as Muslims, not for imposition or maybe not that different from those who decide to “impose” Catholicism: because they believe Islam can give them a moral compass and, hopefully, faith. After all, how is that differently from any parent who decides what religion his/her child will profess? It is just a question of choice influenced by our family and cultural background. As my father likes to put it: “I believe in Jesus (he is a Catholic) because I was born in Spain. I feel in me the faith and the completion religion gives me independently from my country. If I had been born in India I would still believe in God, I would just use a different name for him”(or her, though this bracket is my own addition). It is a bit crazy to see how people assume that one can easily become an Islamic terrorist just because of one’s religion. The root of it is not Islam, the root of Islamic terrorism is the unhappiness and segregation some Muslims undergo. Some of these people use the wrong weapon to combat such injustice: Islamic religion personal interpretations used to justify cruel acts.
I would ask anyone to go and read the Koran before they make generalisations based on other people’s wrong assumptions.
My sister is not religious, but she was brought up a Catholic and sees no wrong in religion itself. After all, she made up her own mind and became an atheist when she grew up. Her children know to be free, and they know that she does not believe in God.
It scares me for my nephews and nice what kind of world they will be facing as Muslims. They are too young to understand (1,6,11) what is going on and probably to even talk about religion. Like them, many Muslim children and adults face misconceptions, discrimination and hatred.
“Politics” can be used to promote fear and eventually hatred
It would be so easy to think that hatred is simply a question of ignorance. Instead, hatred is a much more complex feeling.
Generally, discrimination appears in society between groups or individuals who deem themselves different from others. On this basis they build a whole justification to explain why they think the others do not have the same rights and are inferior.
Some people might think that the more educated you are the more accepting you become. However, this is not always the case. In fact, nowadays a considerable amount of well educated people are leading the way towards the unjustifiable path of hatred and discrimination. You just have to hear some things that some “educated” people like Theresa May slips into her speeches: “We should make it easier for the authorities to deport foreign terror suspects to their own countries” . As if Islamic terrorism was someone else’s dog or problem. Doesn’t she realise that the perpetrators of these attacks are mostly UK born and bred? Or is it that is easier to blame it on foreigners as it seems a quick solution to the problem that she has at home?
This was just a sentence in the middle of her pre-election days. Does it have an importance? Yes, it does. It does give the impression that this is coming from outside but actually most of the Islamic terrorists in the UK and other European countries happen to be born nationals. So where is the problem? Integration.
Education or wealth does not necessarily mean openness of mind and respect for the others
Jean-Marie Le Pen had to pay a 5000 euro fine recently due to his openly racist remarks after being found guilty of inciting hatred against the Roma community by describing them as “irritating” and “smelly” at a press conference in Nice in 2013. This is a public figure, imagine what loads of minority groups suffer on a daily basis: the contemptuous looks, the being addressed in a condescending or rude way, the being ignored, and so on. As Islamic terrorist attack news are quite a relevant and hot topic, people who are “classified as Muslim” (they might not even be Muslim but they “look it”, whatever “look it” means) undergo an existence dotted with not very pleasant moments. Some times, even tragic ones.
Another example of this is Danish lawmaker Kenneth Kristensen who said he regretted saying migrants sailing to Europe should “be fired at” if they crossed the continent’s “territorial waters”. I would like to know what his true thoughts are on the topic of Islamic terrorism. How is this enabling us to have a cohesive society?
We are born good
I firmly believe that we are born good. With this in mind, I cannot but think that society is doing something wrong. What is that we are doing that we are creating angry and revengeful people and why don’t we stop it?
What we do instead of accepting Muslims is marginalising them. From giving the odd disapproving look at the lady who is wearing a headscarf because we assume “she is not free” to wear what she would like. We assume big things with no basis whatsoever and apply to a whole community. This kind of rejection on behalf of people who are not Muslim just give Islamic terrorism more ammunition.
I want to think like Rousseau, that we are born good. Sadly, somewhere along the path of life things start changing. Negativity builds upon us and we respond to it in different ways. Some people isolate themselves, some people are grumpy and some people are by chance in more problematic backgrounds where they can be more prone to be “abducted” by Islamic terrorism.
Most of use would agree to say that when we are babies we are in our most innocent and pure estate, that Islamic terrorism or any other kind of cruel manifestation is not inherent to us as humans. We are born with the ability to empathise and distinguish right from wrong, even from babies. This is probably why we are still here. If we all were bad to start with humanity would have been long gone. In this video you can see an experiment in which babies as young as 5 and 6 months old react approving or rejecting toys. They base their choice on the behaviour that the toy has had towards other toys. For this they perform a little play.
How perfectly normal people can change from good to evil
On the other end of the scale we can find us, grown up adults, fully functioning parts of society. One would assume that one is always oneself but actually science has proved that the environment can change the way “good people” act and make them accept and perform cruel actions towards others. This experiment is known as the “Standford prison experiment” and it was conducted by Philip Zimbardo. This experiment shakes the foundations of those who believe that people who join Islamic terrorism are just bad people and they were born like that.
The volunteers acceded to this, knowing that they would be acting as either prisoners or guards. They were treated as such even around were they lived: they set up everything so that those who had been randomly chosen to be prisoners would be taken by the police from their homes and they would be subject to the looks of everyone.
Equally, those who were coincidentally chosen to be guards, would be seen by everyone “enforcing the law”. On the second day, the prisoners were showing signs of distress and a rebellion broke out among them. The tactic the guards came up with was to fight back in order to discipline the unruly prisoners and make them obey. What happened next surprised everyone: the volunteers both “prisoners” and “guards” and Professor Zimbardo found themselves immerse in what can be described as a cruel experiment. They were unable to stop it until someone from outside prompted Zimbardo to do so. I want to highlight the word distress because I think it is distress what many Muslims are going through, and we are partly to blame for it. We criminalise them on the basis of their religion. We act as guards, we make them act as prisoners (metaphorically speaking). Like in the “Standford Prison experiment” things are getting out of hand. The way some people are showing their distress is being channelled through Islamic terrorism. Some others, on the other side of the fence, are showing their distress and fear with racist remarks. There are some people who lead and some who follow, some Machiavellian minds are taking the opportunity to channel this distress to perform these violent acts. This video is a very interesting shortened version of the “Stanford Prison experiment” there is also a film now, with real actors, which explores what happened.
As Zimbardo puts it himself in this TED TALK: it is not all black or white. It does not matter if you are an atheist, a Catholic or come from any other religious background. That is just one trait that is mixed with may other things. We cannot simplify the origin of Islamic terrorism in an a foolish attempt to eradicate it. I say foolish because until we do not accept that we, not Muslim people, are partly to blame for it we will not be able to end it.
Empathy and openness to understand and respect others is the key
To conclude this, I would like to urge everyone who is reading this to watch this video. Deeyah Khan talks about what it is like to be a young person stuck between your community and your country. This is the case of most of the people who are joining Islamic terrorism. It is very enlightening to see how see goes from despising them to understanding them and feeling sorry for them. She realises that the same struggles that she had, after moving from Norway to the UK and from the UK to the States, are the struggles faced by people who find in Islamic terrorism a way to channel their anger and discontent (manipulated by others, truth to be told).
Let’s not forget either that Islamic terrorism acts all over the world such is The Philippines .You can find a map with more details here. Let’s try to be a bit less self-centered and understand and this is a global problem and only together, not fighting but getting to agreements in a respectful way, we can solve it.
Maybe, if we all stand up to our fear of the unknown, the foreigner, our neighbour and open up with a smile and a nice word….Maybe then we would start doing something right to fight Islamic terrorism and to make other people happy so that they do not seek refuge in radical movements.
Thanks for reading.