Please don’t let this act of terrorism be ISIS related, please don’t let the perpetrators turn out to be Muslim. I hope my visibly Muslim mother is okay using public transport in London today. Should I tell her to forego work? She can’t not go though, vulnerable people rely on her to provide food and administer medicine. Then come prayers for the dead and their loved ones.
This is different to the response I had to the terror attack in Ankara last week. At that time it was “Why doesn’t anybody care in the West?” Or “See, Muslims are just as much victims of terror as anyone else.”
Of course Europeans will care more for fellow Europeans; there is no shame in that. I fully understand that culturally, if not linguistically, Brussels is more wedded to Paris, London and Madrid, than say Ankara or Ivory Coast. Yet trying to highlight the Baghdad terror attack in the subsequent days after Brussels, in fact bringing attention to terror attacks outside of the West, is not a game of whatabouttery for me.
ISIS doesn’t care if your name is Charles, Pierre or Mohammed. They will kill anyone who opposes them; the whole world is collateral damage for them.
The problem arises when Western victims of ISIS are homogenised by our media until it feels like a horrific pastiche of an Oscars So White ceremony of grief. In my view this disjointed coverage feeds an us vs. them narrative which suggests it’s only white Europeans in the West who are affected by terrorist atrocities.
So I mention a Muslim woman named Loubna Lafquiri, a mother and teacher who was killed in the Brussels attack. Not just to remember her but to show that Muslims are victims of terror too.
To suggest that I as a Muslim Londoner who lives and works in the capital would somehow rejoice if Dave from IT with whom I play football is blown up is quite frankly ridiculous.
I doubt this truth will stop Tom from Berkshire phoning into LBC and demanding Muslims foretell and report on future terror attacks by ISIS. It certainly didn’t stop Matthew the Brexiter demanding answers from a Muslim woman going about her business in Croydon.
In most cases condemnation of ISIS terror attacks by Muslim organisations are drowned out by radio hosts demanding why do we never get Muslims loudly condemning attacks on mainland Europe? They are drowned out by Donald “hit them hard” Trump and the general chorus of “Europe has fallen from the right”, or the bemoaning of flabby Liberalism by Tony Blair (Where is Chilcot?).
After every terrorist attack a common sight is the guttural joy of those on the right along with fan boys of ISIS working like a set of dildos in a mutual masturbatory position stroking each other in an embrace to the bottom of the very worst of humanity.
Indiscriminate attacks on mainland Europe are just that: indiscriminate. Unless the sneaky Islamists have invented some smart suicide vest or Halal bullets that don’t kill Muslims, it’s a given – Muslims will be killed by terror attacks in multi-cultural cities.
Contrary to the erroneous and increasingly populist notion, Muslim men are not seeking every opportunity to gain entry into heaven for the 72 virgins. Muslims stand up to terror every day. Let’s not forget heroes like policeman Ahmed Merabet who was killed when he confronted two of the Charlie Hebdo killers.
This may come as a surprise to a certain section of the fourth estate and the mealy mouthed Matthew Doyle, but I’m not on first name basis with anyone who is on a path to commit acts of terror on mainland Europe or here at home.
Asking me to intervene instead of the intelligence and police services whose job it is to deal with the threat would be like being diagnosed with a brain tumour and going to a herbalist for help.
I can’t condemn something I don’t condone. “Not in my name” should be a given; you don’t need to ask me while waiting in the line at a Tesco checkout my views on terrorism, no matter however many times Katie Hopkins says you should.
Having spoken with Muslim friends and family and reading the Twitter feeds of Muslims I can tell you that no matter what Donald Trump proclaims, there are no celebrations, fireworks or sweets offered – no dancing on the streets of Birmingham, no national holiday declared in Bradford. Just a sense of sadness and fear at the events in Brussels.
I’m all for asking difficult questions of the Muslim community, but if you only ask people who took ten years to realise that Anjem Choudary is bad news, it then becomes a media and Whitehall echo chamber, where poorly researched prejudices and bad ideas are voiced and in turn validated (The Sun’s 1 in 5 Muslims support ISIS splash, case in point).
At this stage of the War on Terror with almost daily atrocities around the world and more frequent ones in Europe, Tony Blair pops up to espouse more of the same rhetoric that led to ISIS in the first place. There is a realisation that the War on Terror, much like the Die Hard franchise, long ago ran out of ideas, and instead it’s just the same story told over and over again, with bigger explosions and badder than bad baddies and a promise that it has now morphed from mission accomplished to this is a generational fight.
Releasing a posthumous track by Tupac warning Muslims about the dangers of ISIS would have more of an impact than paying former extremists to formulate a coherent counter–radicalisation policy that long ago was discredited.
Over a decade after Bush declared “mission accomplished” and even longer after Bush’s visit to a Mosque in the days after 9/11, we are reduced to greedily scooping up tweets by Katie Hopkins suggesting Mosques need to have a light show that would make Jean-Michele Jarre look on in envy, as a citizenship test to prove that you don’t heart ISIS.
Until then I hope media in Europe and America has a collective Sam Smith moment, discovering racism exists and acknowledging Islamophobia exists and that reporting of terror attacks must be more balanced.
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Raf is a vegetarian Muslim who does current affairs with jokes. Follow him on Twitter @1Rafz
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