Let's rewind to July 2011. A bomb's went off in the city and a shooting has happened in Europe. All eyes on Europe's predicament, everything is as unclear as the smoke from the bomb masks the air. News agencies start to paint a picture of the perpetrator from pre-judged conceptions of what this terrorist should be - bearded, long hair, dressed in black, brown skin and of the Muslim faith. A random Imam from the local mosque is rushed onto TV, unprepared to defend his faith in the face of horrific attacks. But then as the dust settles, we hear that the attacker is a white man, this is indeed a domestic attack. Following Rupert Murdoch's claim that Muslims are responsible for the attack and must be apologetic, then why was there a deafening silence from Christians for Breivik's horrific actions?
France seem to champion its freedom of speech and expression-ironic since they banned the right to protest for the case of Palestine. The banning of hijabs and turbans for Sikhs didn't help either. It's not an issue of Muslims alone, it's one of tolerance for other faiths and being respectful. The West should be mediators not instigators. Let's have inter-faith dialogue so that we can work together and build stronger relationships. It was Saladin, a Sunni, who was appointed the grand vizier of the Fatimid Empire, a Shia empire, a very important position and different sects fought side-by-side in the Crusades, allowing for the eventual Muslim recapture of Palestine.
My mother always said to me "Abdul, all five fingers are not the same" - meaning just because we belong to a certain group does not mean we are similar. The faith is not guilty if someone commits a crime, just as when a person is involved in a shooting it does not make the race guilty. All Muslim's don't have bombs strapped to their chest and indeed not all white people are UKIP voters. British Muslims have a love for the citizens of this land, the people are great, kind, charitable and welcoming and have adopted some of the Muslim values that our own lands have forgotten. It is in our faith to obey the laws of the land we live in whilst observing our own. But how about we live and work together to rid these threats, instead of playing the blame game? After all, a French life is not worth more than the life of one in the Middle East.
We defend our right to freedom of speech, but what about the concept of being respectful of someone's faith? Muslim's love Muhammad (pbuh) and his companions dearly, so when someone makes fun of him it hurts deeply and we become offended. Freedom of speech comes hand in hand with the freedom to be offended. In the Prophet's lifetime there are many stories of him being insulted by the people of the time who would slander him with some of the vilest things one could say, akin to what we hear today, yet the Prophet would turn away, not rising to this, an example we should follow.
These terror attacks are a result of a mess that has been created by those from the past. From Bush and Blair's meddling in the Middle East and the West's near obsession of the affairs of the Middle East to installing puppet regimes-the Shah-in Iran in the 50's who would bring in foreign food via planes whilst his country starved, and supporting Saddam in the 80's whilst he gassed villages. It wasn't pens and pencils that drove Muslims to have this feeling, it was Abu Ghraib, Gaza, Iraq and Afghanistan. A little context as to the possible reasons for the rift between the East and the West. Pushing Muslims into a corner will only result in growing feelings of 'Us' against 'Them', intensified Islamophobia after 9/11 saw increased recruitment for extremist groups as angst reached a tipping point.
Let others think of Muslims as very pious and patient so that others may follow our example. Let's talk about the good in each other, just as churches give food to those in need, as do Muslims and Sikhs do in the form of Langars. Organisations such as FOSIS who organise large drives in communities in the form of the "Believe and Do Good" campaign, where Muslims aim to give to the homeless, assisting in care homes, giving blood and in general helping our communities. Let's champion the true heroes and not welcome the villains.
Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul, it is as if he had slain the entire of mankind. And whoever saves one - it is as if he had saved mankind entirely (Surah Al Maidah 5:32)