Education; the only answer to extremism.
It is without trepidation that I say the planet is becoming a more volatile and dangerous place to inhabit. The tragic loss of life that occurred in Manchester only a few days ago brings home the reality that the darkest, most cruel form of humanity lurks amongst us. It is unforgiving, it is ruthless, it is on a mission of absolute division and apocalyptic destruction. While the latter is a far reach, one glance at my Facebook and Twitter timelines suggests that division is well and truly underway, and that my friends, is what I find most terrifying.
Salman Abedi targeted a packed-out Ariana Grande concert, identifying it as his moment to strike. Why? Because of her fan base. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to conclude that the demographics of Ariana’s fan base are largely made up of young teens and children, particularly girls. These are the purest form of life; innocent, unsuspecting children, blissfully unaware of the hostile world around them. They were supposed to have an incredible experience with their friends and family, only to have the euphoria cut short by the forces of evil and injustice.
This was an attack on our children, and it was an attack designed to spark outrage and anger — the media once again, have jumped right on that emotion. Piers Morgan suggests that the Muslim community are culpable for not doing more, it is now deemed their responsibility to seek out suspicious activity and report it to the police. (Ironically Salman had been reported several times and the authorities did nothing). BBC had branded the attack as being orchestrated by ISIS before ISIS had even claimed responsibility, based on the fact that ISIS supporters were celebrating…of course they would be celebrating, but does supporting a football team make you a midfielder? Absolutely not, and to be frank ISIS would claim responsibility for the 5p bag charge if they could — they are faltering in the Middle East and will do and say anything to look powerful and remain relevant.
What I beg people to understand, is that we need to be questioning the headlines, the articles online, the statuses on Facebook, the tweets, the lot. We need to ask ourselves why is this happening? Why are these individuals blowing themselves up or driving into innocent civilians in broad daylight…for what purpose, to achieve what? I’ll hazard a guess;
Western forces have been interfering for too long in the Middle East. Our allied forces have killed innocent men, women and children. We have bombed Syria, we have invaded Iraq, all for our own gain. These individuals are looking for revenge, in adherence to a radicalised, extremist ideology formulated from their own perspective of Islam. What is more damaging to our society, more than any extremist, is the West’s inability to look at our own actions and past. This is fundamentally problematic, we are led to believe that we are a country of righteousness and justice, as if we haven’t put a foot wrong, which in turn makes us point the finger at the Middle East and those who originate from it. The likes of Dana Loesch angrily demand that moderate Muslims speak out against these attacks, yet I don’t remember Catholics being asked to speak out against IRA bombings, I don’t remember white people ever being asked to speak out when Adam Lanza drove to Sandy Hook Elementary and shot 20 children to death (all between the ages of six and seven), or when James Holmes walked into a cinema and shot 20 people to death, injuring 70 others. These double-standards are ignorant, repugnant and need to stop. Alienating a whole community is only going to lead to more individuals being radicalised, more ammunition for extremists to use on young minds.
The only way we will ever be able to stamp out religious extremism is to educate our children on the importance of a diverse, accepting and loving society. In schools, Religious studies needs to be actual religious studies, not 4 years of Christianity with some Judaism chucked in for effect. We need to educate ourselves about Islam, we need to educate ourselves on our dealings with the Middle East, and most of all, as wish-washy and cliche as it sounds, we need to teach kids that love trumps hate. You cannot fight an ideology with guns and warfare, you cannot eradicate it with an airstrike, it needs to be filtered out of society by utilising the values that terrorists hate most, our unity, compassion and unwillingness to surrender.
Ideologies like ISIS are always going to exist unless we stop letting the media tell us what to think. Discuss your thoughts, educate yourself, and pass it on.