Ever since I switched on my phone on motzei shabbat to find my Facebook inundated with posts regarding the bloody and terrible massacre that has shocked to the core our – until then – relatively peaceful and oblivious European bubble, conversations and debates regarding this heinous crime have made their way into basically every space of my life. At work, with my students and in my regular supermarket in London, at home and in my community, on the phone with my friends and family who live abroad, in my Spanish WhatsApp group, and of course on Facebook, everybody has grief to share, fears to exorcise, hope to infuse, love to give, strength to fight. Whilst I unite in mourning and remembering the victims and appreciate the (very necessary) debate that this multiple massacre has triggered, I am sick and tired of hearing the same old delusions that do nothing to advance the fight of free society against Islamic extremism.
That’s what it is. Once and for all, let’s call things by their names.
Posted as Facebook statuses, casually dropped in conversations or passionately defended in articles, I wish to these counter these slogans that – playing tambourines and dancing to the song of kumbaya with flowers in their hair – keep coming my way. These campfire songs would no doubt put me to sleep in a second – which could be very good on the right day – if it weren’t for their terrifying far-reaching implications.
Drum roll to … the top three delusional statements I keep hearing:
YOUR WARS OUR DEAD
Have you seen this constantly shared meme? It makes me very upset. Really. Because it implies that all those innocent victims – sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, partners, lovers, friends, tall, short, white, black, believers, atheists, left-wingers, apolitical and right-wingers – who were simply up for a good night out, ultimately and for some obscure and indirect reason, had it coming to them. Whilst most people I talk to thank G-d believe that the victims didn’t deserve it, a worrying number of people think that this massacre is actually Hollande’s fault.
Are they serious?
Or are they just plain cowards?
Because it’s much less terrifying to see the French government – easily changeable, not perfect but definitely democratic – as the ultimate culprit than looking at IS’s monstrous face and realising that, hell yeah, it is knock, knock, knocking on our door!
FYI, for those who thought that IS were just a little group of savages that would always commit their atrocities far away, may I remind you that they have already wiped out entire populations of Christians and Yazidis, captured and forced thousands of girls as sex slaves, executed thousands of civilians. Was it due to their leader’s international policies? Was it due to some foreign intervention? Of course not!!
They are just evil bastards. It’s hard to believe that some human beings can choose to do such heinous, barbaric acts. But we better start believing it, for our own sake.
THEY EXPECT US MUSLIMS TO STOP ISIS MATE, I CAN’T EVEN GET THE GIRL I LIKE TO TEXT ME BACK
We’ve all read different versions of this – Muslims shouldn’t have to apologise, Muslims don’t have a bigger responsibility than the rest of us, etc.
I understand that there is a very real danger that this massacre might prompt a backlash, which many Muslims fear. And we have to admit that there are too many people who do not seem to know the difference between Muslim and IS, which is both sad and stupid. But we cannot let fear of Islamophobia stop us from asking for a stronger response from the Muslim community.
Yes, the vast majority of Muslims oppose IS, yet it is not enough to keep repeating that IS does not act in every Muslim’s name. It might be necessary, but it is not enough. So sorry, but the well-intentioned #notinmyname campaign can’t be the end of it all.
Muslims can and should do more than the rest of us. Simply because IS has infiltrated Islam (and not any other religion). We have to accept that youngsters are being brainwashed and recruited in certain mosques, university Islamic societies, etc. as we speak. And it is Muslims who frequent such places, whereas non-Muslim people normally don’t.
According to Yoram Schweitzer, an expert on international terrorism and head of the INSS Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict, Muslims and their leaders are the ones who should lead the public and ethical campaigning to strongly oppose the terrorists. Not just with words, but with actions. Muslims can keep educating in peace, tolerance and respect. They can report any inflammatory sermon that they happen to hear. They can kick out and denounce every hateful preacher they happen to know. They can expel radicals from their communities, and declare them enemies of Islam. Muslims should be our active partners in this war.
WE HAVE FAILED TO INTEGRATE THEM
I could simply call this BS, but let’s say it’s true and we did not succeed in integrating them. We repeatedly discriminated against them. We didn’t help them get a proper education, we confined them to the worst neighbourhoods, we didn’t give them the chance to get a good job. We failed them.
This is obviously very bad. And we need to work on our integration policies and attitudes.
But guess what? Even if it is true, they are not alone in the world.
In Spain, where I come from, there is still terrible discrimination against Gypsies. Big time. It has been this way for hundreds of years. And you know what? As far as I know, no Spanish Gypsy has blown himself up. Nowadays, there are numerous initiatives to fight this discrimination. For example, Fundación Secretariado Gitano works hard to “promote the access of Roma to rights, services, goods and social resources on an equal footing with the rest of the citizenry”.
The same could be said of soooo many communities in the world.
Is it too much to ask that before beating ourselves up we demand a bit of moral agency from these bastards???