I am a Muslim. I am lucky to be a Muslim. I am proud to be a Muslim. I won’t say I am a deeply religious person, because I’m not but I do love my religion. To me, Islam is absolutely beautiful and offers such peace and tranquillity that it is difficult to put it in words. I am not a terrorist, I am not part of a religion which encourages terrorism. The Islam I know is completely different to the Islam that the media propagates and their agenda is backed by these ‘Muslims’; who have a confused ideology and complete lack of true understanding of Islam.

I am from Oldham, have been here my whole life. Most people don’t really know of Oldham (I wouldn’t if I didn’t live here), there really isn’t much going for Oldham (“oooo look we have a new cinema!”) but it is home. Also it is very, very close to Manchester (It’s practically Manchester – even though some may argue otherwise). Why is this important? Well the terrorist incidents that took place in Manchester on 22/05/17, have truly put terrorism and fear into context for me. The sad truth is, terrorism occurs and it occurs on such a ridiculously frequent basis. Attacks in France, Belgium, Syria, Turkey, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, Iraq, Bangladesh, Jordan, India, Indonesia, Germany etc. Being from England, we are slightly isolated, surrounded by a sea of water and an idea that we are safe. “They can’t get to us” We often say. They don’t need to get in, because they are already here! And we have found that out the tough way this year. Westminster was first, Manchester was next.

Terrorism is scary, sorrowful but it always seems so far away. We live with this idea that it won’t happen to us, it can’t happen to us but as seen on 22nd May 2017, it can and it did. It’s sad and emotional when it’s someone else’s home but it’s downright scary and frightening when it’s yours. Terrorism can occur anywhere and we need to rise up against this, together!

Manchester is beautiful, the people, the diversity, the shopping, the food, the culture, the Northern spirit. Everything about it, is so beautiful. The unity and solidarity in Manchester is unheard of, and once again was at the forefront in the face of extremism. Manchester is still united!

Inevitably, the media backlash was targeted at Muslims. Caricatures (since they are imitations of actual humans) such as racist Tommy Robinson and delusional Katie Hopkins had a field day with their classless comments, using the tragedy to push forth their racist agenda. Before the perpetrator was even found, it was already assumed that a Muslim had committed this horrific act. It almost seems that whenever terrorism occurs, Muslims are always pushed up alongside it. And this is frankly stupid! Them people that commit such disgusting acts cannot be called Muslims, they have no semblance with Islam. Their version of ‘Islam’ is sick and twisted. Not the version that I know, which preaches peace, compassion and love. The word ‘Peace’ is mentioned 67 times in the Quran; ‘Love’ appears over 90 times. In contrast ‘War’ is mentioned just 36 times; And this is mainly regarding ‘Personal War’, a fight with oneself not with another. Clearly these extremist radicals that claim to be Muslim have a very distorted view of this peaceful religion. In reality you would never see the media speak about this, because it doesn’t help their agenda.

‘Plight of Muslims’ is a real issue, an often ignored issue. Once again a lot of this is to do with the media, Muslims are meant to be the evil ones abusing others, not the ones being abused. Therefore the ‘Plight of Muslims’ rarely makes news. From 2015 to 2016 the percentage of religious hate crimes in the UK had increased by 34% from the previous term to an overall of 7% whilst race hate crimes stood at 79%. Predominantly these were against Muslims. Often Hindu’s and Sikh’s are also victims of these crimes, and many times this is due to the ethnic similarities between Muslims and Hindu’s. Social media is very active on the religious hate crime, often many Islamophobic comments are made and frequently videos and stories can be seen of Muslims being victims of hate crimes. Many Muslim women suffer from these crimes on a regular basis, wearing a hijab, they are often sworn at, humiliated and even beaten which is disgusting and cowardly.

After 9/11 there was a huge stigma against Muslims and Islamophobia was ripe, and it is on the rise once more at an exponential rate. I have been lucky that I have never been on the receiving end of religious hate crime, but it is very apparent and very real.

As previously stated, it just seems that the word ‘Terrorism’ is attributed to Muslims. If an incident has occurred and  a Muslim is involved, everyone is quick to jump onto the ‘Terrorism’ bandwagon. But when an incident has occurred by a person of a different faith or religion, the word ‘Terrorist’ is rarely mentioned if at all. When speaking about ‘White Privilege’, if a white person is the perpetrator of an incident the labels are always very different; “Confused individual”, “Tough upbringing”, “Troubled childhood”, “Mental problems” are used. Seemingly to take the blame away from the individual in question and placing it on a psychological mindset. Whenever an attack is done by a white person, the headline always reads as “White male….”, the religion is never brought forward, yet whenever an attack is done by a Libyan, Pakistani, Kurd, it’s always “Muslim…” never “Asian…” or so on. Media propaganda at it’s finest, dividing and isolating Muslims from the rest of the world.

When bombs are used the word ‘Terrorism’ is linked, but this isn’t always the case when guns are used (weapon of choice for most American ‘terrorist’ incidents) except for the Westminster attack where the weapon of choice was a knife and a car, yet since an alleged ‘Muslim’ was the perpetrator, the headlines sparked with the words “Terrorist” and “Terrorism”. So what actually is ‘Terrorism’ and what differs ‘Terrorist attacks’ to ‘Gun crime’ and the sort. In short nothing, they are the same; It’s the media agenda once again, condemning Muslims as sole attributes to terrorism. The definition of ‘Terrorism’ is simple, “Unlawful use of violence and intimidation”. This could involve bombs, guns, knives. It’s all terrorism, just different forms of it.

Dylan Roof is a terrorist, Adam Lanza is a terrorist, Gaveen Eugene Long was a terrorist, Hitler was a terrorist, Stalin was a terrorist, Pol Pot was a terrorist, Idi Amin was a terrorist, the British empire was arguably the worst terrorist in history. The atrocities our empire did were horrendous, mass genocides and ethnic cleansing are part of our history. And currently the US and Great Britain are terrorists, just their terrorism is done under a legalised banner.

Terrorism has no religion, terrorism only knows death. This is not what my religion preaches, Islam means ‘Peace’ and that’s what we all need to promote. Regardless of your religion, race, ethnicity or skin colour, we need to promote peace unto one another, this agenda of the media does not benefit either one, the whole aim is to divide us. Let’s not separate ourselves by labels, lets embrace these labels but also respect the labels of others. Let’s not blindly follow blind leaders, but do our own research, enhance our own knowledge and learn to respect one another. Let’s not beat and abuse the other when we pass them by, but let’s embrace them in the warmth of our arms. As Muslims we should take a leading charge in our communities, try to educate the younger generation so they don’t fall into traps of radical extremism, try to preach our religion of peace, mercy and love for all to see. Violence cannot beat violence, it only leads to more, love each other, it only leads to peace.

Haroon Ali

 

 

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