Hating others is doing the terrorist’s job

(Previously published in the McTavish Opera blog 23 May 2013)
 
The moment you start hating Muslims, the terrorists have won.

I write this in the wake of the brutal decapitation of a British soldier outside Woolwich barracks in London, in an apparent act of fundamentalist Islamic terrorism on 22 May 2013. One of the attackers was filmed with bloodied hands and carrying a machete, stating that “I apologise that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.” He made this statement in clear English and with a London accent. There has since been an attempt by 40 members of the neo-Nazi English Defence League (EDL) to storm a mosque in Woolwich, which has been repelled by the Metropolitan Police.

Whenever there is an attack of this nature, there are always reactions, and that is to some extent understandable. I would ask people to sit back, take a deep breath, perhaps have a stiff glass of perspective and ice, and think carefully before speaking, typing, or indeed taking action.

What exactly the murderers who carried out this terrible act today seek we do not yet know. We may get to find out as they have not been killed but are in hospital after being wounded by armed police. One thing I do know however is that people like this thrive and rely upon hate – your hate.

It is nothing new. The UK went through 30 years of the troubles in Northern Ireland and paramilitaries on both sides relied upon stirring up hatred towards Roman Catholics and Protestants. By doing so, they could justify their acts of murder. Those who claim to represent the Islamic faith (they don’t) who carry out terrorist actions seek exactly the same. They hope to stir up western hate against Islam to such an extent that it will erupt in a holy war.

These people do not represent the vast, and I mean vast, majority of Muslims whom it is my experience are peace-loving, friendly, kind and charitable people. If you start to think the majority of Muslims are a danger to you, I would ask you to think about that carefully. Do Islamic neighbours of yours truly represent a threat to you? Are you in danger from your local shopkeeper? I live in Edinburgh and the adjacent burgh of Leith every year has a Mela; an Asian-based festival of harmony and friendship. That festival is organised by Muslim business people and is just one of many such Melas which take place in the UK every year. I refuse to believe that these people represent a danger to me or anyone else, and neither should you.

Unfortunately, these same people, who wish only to live peaceful lives and worship God according to their faith are destined to become further victims of every terrorist murder. Even without today’s murder, I have read about and seen first hand Asian and African people being attacked verbally and even physically by people who use terrorist attacks to justify their hate. Of course, some are racists who use the terrorist attacks as an excuse but others are stirred up by sensationalist stories in racist newspapers, while the more extreme have been indoctrinated by extreme right-wing groups and individuals. Not that it makes any difference but many of these abused and attacked are not even Muslim but may be Hindu, Sikh, or even Christian (or atheist/agnostic) for that matter. The racists just see a black/brown face and immediately think “Muslim”, which in their tiny, brainwashed minds equates with “terrorist”. The simple fact is that Asian and African people in the UK are far more likely to be the victims of violence than the perpetrators of it. The possibility of a violent assault is something they live with every day of their lives.

And the terrorists love that. Just as they love the publicity of the gutter press stirring up sensationalist stories about Muslims. Because it gets the public’s back up and the next thing you know the EDL are attempting to storm a mosque – and people are voting UKIP.

The terrorist murder suspect filmed today also stated “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” I tend to agree more with Mohandas Gandhi, who said “An eye for an eye merely leaves the world blind.”

I well recall when PanAm 103 was bombed over Lockerbie and thinking it would not make me hate Muslims. Just as I thought the same when the attacks of 9/11 happened, and Madrid, and Bali, and the 7/7 bombings as well. Just as today’s atrocity will not make me hate Muslims.

I am an atheist and I dislike Islam as a faith – just as I dislike Christianity, Judaism, or any other faith and I am quick to point out the atrocities inherent in all of them. That however will never make me hate the individuals who follow any particular faith and whom I know the majority of bear me no ill will, as nor do I them. To use a Christian analogy, you can love the sinner but hate the sin.

The moment you start making sweeping generalisations about all Muslims being the same, the moment you start hating all Muslims, you are feeding and justifying the actions of a tiny minority of hotheads who do not represent the overwhelming majority of peaceful Muslims, Islam as a faith or indeed the Qur’an which does not justify their actions. The moment you start hating, you are doing the terrorists job for them, and they have won.

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