On the notion that all terrorists are Muslim
I normally attempt to be quite reserved in the articles I write, to refrain from using exaggerations and insults against things that I disagree with, but I think that in the wake of what has taken place in Paris, I’ve lost my cool. What occurred on Friday was horrific, and I can only imagine the fear and sadness that the people of Paris felt on that night. The attacks on Paris were tragic, and the arguing, in-fighting and racism that follows in the national media and on social media make things even worse. Just days after the attack, a petition to close UK borders has reached just under 300,000 signatures; completely ignorant of the fact that French borders are closed only temporarily for the purpose of catching the perpetrators, and that there are many, many British citizens abroad (including me) that would be cut off, were our borders to be shut off.
What pains me is that so many of the people on social media sharing this petition and engaging in arguments also bear the French flag on their profile picture, in a supposed show of solidarity with the victims and the people of France. France is a nation that stands for tolerance and egalitarianism, a nation that lies in the heartland of Europe and is a symbol of everything great that Western democracies stand for. The hateful opinions being spouted by so many today are flying in the face of the principles that countries like France were founded on. These people fail to understand that division and isolationism are exactly what ISIS are hoping for; united we stand, divided we fall.
One of the banal platitudes I’ve seen thrown around online reads, “Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslim.” This statement wonderfully combines being vapidly racist and a complete untruth at the same time, and its proponents are either being wilfully ignorant, or are tragically uneducated on matters of recent history. It scares me that the people of England can be so quick to forget events that have shaped our own national mindset, and use this ignorance to spread hate and oppress minority groups. It seems Orwellian.
If, as so many state, all terrorists are Muslim; what exactly were the Irish Republican Army? As I know it, they were a group that organised a brutal and abhorrent bombing campaign across the cities of London, Birmingham and Coventry, and assassinated several high-ranking government officials. This campaign of terror took places just over 25 years ago, and acts of sectarian violence still occur (thankfully rarely) in Ireland today. They were terrorists. In ignoring this, many are willing to erase our country’s own history to subscribe to a new and hateful narrative.
“Well 99.9% are still Muslims”, they cry. Exactly how many of the spree killers that plastered the headlines of US newspapers this last year were black, or Muslim? As far as I can remember, every single one has been white. But of course, these young white men are ‘lone wolves’, are ‘troubled’ or are mentally ill. The same rings true for Anders Breivik, a man who car-bombed the Norwegian capital and shot just under 100 young men and women to act out his warped political views. Apparently, it is impossible for a white man to be a terrorist. We can bomb, we can rampage, we can burn crosses on the front lawns of African Americans, but the media will always find a way to exonerate us, to shift the blame or put it down to the demons inside our heads.
Meanwhile, innocent Muslims across the world will have the label ‘terrorist’ slapped across their faces simply for the clothes they wear or the colour of their skin. History can teach us everything; giving us lessons and contexts that have played out time and again in the 10,000 years of civilised human history. So how dare anyone forget our own country’s hardships, whilst our brothers and sisters in France are experiencing their own, to justify isolating the United Kingdom at the time when others need us the most.