I was lying in bed, scrolling through social media, and a BBC news update popped up on my phone. ‘Police are treating incident as a ‘terrorist attack’. All ‘we’ knew, was that someone had stabbed a police officer outside Westminster, and someone else had mowed along Westminster Bridge à la Nice. My family, and university peers are people who I consider to be open-minded, ‘liberal’, not racist, and at least a bit critical of Western foreign policy and how it’s portrayed in the media. But, my group chats were on fire. ‘Tragedy has struck London’, ‘what are these terrorists doing now’, ‘such a tragedy’. Mind you, this was at point where a) no one had claimed responsibility, b) we had no demographic information about the so-called terrorists to even build a stereotype. We were going on the fact that someone had run towards Parliament with a knife, and another had driven a car recklessly, causing many injuries and one death.
Don’t get me wrong, my condolences to the families and friends of those hurt and affected, but let’s take a step back here. The muslim community raised £17,000 in less than 24 hours for the victims and their families. This was probably out of good will, and Londoner solidarity. But maybe, subconsciously or not, maybe they felt they had something to prove. Because once again, their individuality has been eroded. Once again, there is going to undoubtedly be a spike in Islamophobic behaviour. Once again, we brown people were going to be further shepherded in to one big lump of ‘other’.
Let’s also think about human solidarity. Along with the other bleeding heart liberals of my generation, I feel sorry for a woman in Sierra Leone who faces female genital mutilation. I feel anger for a woman in Afghanistan falsely accused of adultery, who pays the ultimate price. I feel hatred for the rapists of countless girls, women, boys and men around the world. I feel frustration with the MEP who said that women deserve to be payed less because they’re smaller.
But I also feel pity for a group of Muslim men, who feel so victimised, so marginalised, so ‘othered’, so villainised by the west that they feel like the only way they can make a difference is through suicide or violence. I feel guilt that I belong to a society that created and encouraged. A society that stood by and let it happen, a society that cheered it on. A society complicit in destruction. No one, and I mean no one, is born with an intrinsic will to do harm to others (and yes, I mean even in a self-interested state of nature). There is no religion that preaches murder. That is not a religion of purity. That is how some people, some very few people, have twisted the emotions of an utterly powerless group of people, for political, economic and social gain.
London is falling
The war planes are coming. They will protect
The people who die from what they eject.
That is what they say
On the news
We will kill them all, before they can fight.
We will destroy their lands and cities and schools.
We will starve their children and poison their pools
of tears of sadness which turn to anger
We fuel the aggression
Us, the all powerful aggressor.
London is falling. but she already fell.
When one man stands next to another
No emotions felt. – N. A.