7/7 and Beyond - a South Asian response to the London Bombings
7/7 AND BEYOND - A Youth Perspective
Thesis statement: War on Terror. The words are definitive enough. How can we fight against terrorism with war?
The events of 9/11 cannot be forgotten. Since the two planes collided with the twin towers on the 9th of September 2001, the lives of Muslims and non-Muslims can never be the same again. This pivotal event gave birth to the war on terror and an apparently growing divide between East and West.
“We, therefore, here in Britain stand shoulder to shoulder with our American friends in this hour of tragedy, and we, like them, will not rest until this evil is driven from our world.” Tony Blair spoke of evil terrorists, and indeed they are evil. We must not allow such atrocities to happen again. Thus we must address the question: what drove these individuals to commit these unjustifiable acts?
Some Muslims may find it difficult to come to terms with the how the culture of their parents country of origin (South Asian or otherwise), religion and British identity intersect. Whilst most are able to find points of commonality and appreciate the richness of a multi-dimensional identity, others may feel alienated. Could this alienation be exploited by terrorist organisations to promote their radical opinions?
“Every nation in every region now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”- George W. Bush. Can one not be against the terrorists and also against the concept of a ‘War on Terror’ as defined by Bush? Military intervention in Iraq that has led to deaths of innocent civilians may be a used by terrorist organisations to manipulate the views of young alienated Muslims who feel an ancestral or religious link to Iraq. In this regard, perhaps it is necessary to address the feelings of young Muslims with regard to the War on Terror, since open conversation will prevent the possibility of resentments being fuelled by some with evil intentions. Equally, if all Muslims are stereotyped be terrorists because of the abhorrent actions of a tiny minority, this may further fuel alienation.
The alienated individuals must be re-integrated with society. To strengthen the bonds between non-Muslims and Muslims, educational citizenship workshops should occur at schools that provide a forum to discuss the various perceptions of Islam and what it means to be a Muslim. The school environment is an ideal place for open discussion so that Muslims and non-Muslims accept each other as friends and not as the ‘other’. Moreover, the media could articulate the fact that Muslims as a community do not support terrorism and the unjustifiable actions of a tiny minority on 7/7 do not represent the faith or views of Muslims as a whole. Muslims must in turn evaluate the factors that make some individuals vulnerable to brainwashing by extreme groups and address these at a community level.
A recent survey carried out by the Observer demonstrated that 70% of the citizens considered the area that they live in racially diverse, (FIG 1) and 77% of the citizens would not rather live in a less ethnically diverse area (FIG 2). Furthermore, 60% of citizens have close friends from ethnic backgrounds (FIG 3).
Professor Sir Bernard Crick wrote in his report that, “[He saw] no incompatibility between multiculturalism and Britishness. Britishness must be part of multiculturalism. ‘Britishness’ is to respect the laws, the parliamentary and democratic political structures, traditional values of mutual tolerance and equal rights”. Perhaps more Muslims should make public the view that Britishness as so defined is not incompatible with being Muslim. Another step to counter stereotypes might be to promote work in the wider community. A higher level of integration within the wider community will also make it increasingly difficult for extreme organisations to infiltrate false ideas into the minds of young Muslims.
Although diverse religions may preach a versatile ethos, all religions are united on the basis of simple moral obligation: we are all responsible for each other in a community. To conclude, I believe that Islam has been tainted by some to cause acts such as the occurrence on 7/7. It is our duty as the youth to speak up and be proud of both our nationality and our religion.
By Maria Mahmood (15)
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