I can’t even begin to put my horror, sorrow and disgust at yesterday’s events into words. To those of you not in the know, a British soldier, Lee Rigby, was murdered in the street yesterday by two Muslim men wielding meet cleavers and kitchen knives. He was apparently identified by wearing a ‘Help for Heroes’ T-shirt, before being hit by a car, and then carved up like a piece of meat. Apparently the perpetrators were screaming ‘Allah’ as they did it, and invited passers-by to film and take pictures of their actions before armed police officers arrived.
The reason why I’m writing about this is that there’s never any middle-ground in people’s responses. They are either right-wing extremists whose political opinions are centred around the kernels of xenophobia and racism, or ‘liberals’ banging the drum of ‘not every Muslim is like that!’, as they do after every one of these types of tragedies. 9/11, 7/7 and the Boston bombings earlier this year all throw up the same outcries from the same people.
My opinion is strictly in the middle. Do I believe that all Muslims are terrorists with some secret agenda? Of course not; I’ve known far too many good people who happened to be Muslim for that. The opinions of the BNP, EDL and their supporters are nothing short of ignorant and, usually, racist. But equally blind are those who dismiss the problems that Islam is inspiring, if not directly causing, and that the people of this faith (and this faith alone) have consistent difficulty in integrating into our society.
Criticism of Islam in today’s world leads to one being branded as right-wing and extremist, so I’ve stopped trying to debate with people these days. There isn’t a lot of point. Take my old friend Neal, for example. For an intelligent man, he does believe in some very odd things. For one, I don’t believe that President Obama kills Afghan or Pakistani babies as a result of US air/drone operations. Yes, there are civilian casualties resulting from American airstrikes, but labelling Obama a ‘baby killer’ because of it is rather juvenile. Firstly, despite how the military can make the most terrible errors of judgement (I’m referring to the US military here, since Britain doesn’t operate drones over Pakistani airspace, which is where most of the controversy stems from), they will not initiate such a strike without firm intelligence that there are indeed terrorists in that area.
Personally, I’m not a big supporter of drone strikes, since there is always some tragic collateral damage. Special operations forces can accomplish the same missions with less loss of innocent life, though I can see why the Western governments use drones; after all, special forces or regular soldiers risk their lives, and the public is war-weary and tired of seeing coffins draped in flags coming home. The point is, despite how terrible it is when women and children are killed, the press usually fails to mention that these people were caught up in the blast because of their proximity to known hostile militants. They are typically the spouses and offspring of enemy combatants. Don’t take that to mean that I’m justifying their deaths; they don’t deserve to die for that reason, or any other. But consider the fact that they know what it is that their menfolk do. They can hardly be ignorant of the fact that their camps (and therefore, homes) will be targeted. They have a choice to leave and go somewhere safer. The victims of 9/11, 7/7 and the Boston marathon had absolutely no choice.
I also remember Neal mentioning the rise of Islamist governments in the Arab world, and the possibility of Turkey joining their ranks. I remember Neal saying he thought it would be a good thing, and I wholeheartedly disagree. I don’t see how any governments which could be potentially sympathetic to terrorists will be advantageous to anyone, especially as Turkey has been such a model for others to follow since Ataturk. Neal, old boy, you’re a friend and I like you, but quite how you can criticise the Orthodox Church (quite rightly) but not see the potential problems that will arise from possible Muslim extremist breeding grounds…I don’t know. In Britain, it’s a left-wing politically correct trend to criticise ‘organised religion’, and highlight, say, sex scandals in the Catholic church or homophobic conservatism amongst Orthodox priests, but never mention the problems that Islam seems to cause.
I also don’t know what the future of England will be. Perhaps you’ll have heard that the right-wing extremist English Defence League attacked two mosques on the night of the murder. They said it was an act of ‘retaliation’…against who? Innocent people who were nowhere near the scene of the crime? This kind of thuggery is only making the social issues in our country more complicated and divisive, but I was shocked at how much support the EDL seemed to get just by browsing websites like Facebook and Twitter.
From where I’m standing, the EDL is made up of ignorant lower-class English people who are living off state benefits and believing all the xenophobic trash the far-right are feeding them. It’s worth checking out a video of a Sky News journalist (I think it was Sky, anyway) interviewing an EDL supporter a rally somewhere in the north, wherein he states he is protesting ‘Muslamic law’ and ‘Iraqi law in the UK’. It’s laughable, but at the same scary.
When you have so many ignorant native English trash like this hating anything and everything because it’s foreign and different, I’m not surprised Muslims are becoming radicalised in the UK if all they’re encountering throughout their lives is hate. I can sympathise; I watched a video of a Muslim rally in London a few minutes ago, listening to them chant ‘UK go to Hell!’ and ‘Shariah Law for UK!’, and I can tell you it doesn’t feel good to have people wishing death and destruction on your culture and country. On the other hand, however, the government has been positive towards Muslim communities, so much so that their actions border on positive discrimination, which further alienates moderate or liberal British people.
The government’s actions were especially galling under Labour. My non-British readers will probably not be familiar with the Gurkhas, a race of people originating from Nepal who since 1820 have fought for the British Army in every major war we’ve fought. I’ve had the pleasure to meet many during my brief military career, and they are amongst the most natural warriors and finest soldiers in the world. Their bravery is second to none, but for some of the most dangerous men in the world they have a cheerful disposition, and are always friendly and helpful. Having said that, I would not want one as my enemy.
The controversy arose shortly after the 7/7 and Glasgow bombings, successful and failed terrorist attacks respectively, after which public tolerance towards Muslims and Islam was again running thin, just as it had after September 11th. It was made aware to the public that despite how Muslim families were importing their relatives from Pakistan in droves, the Gurkhas were not allowed to remain in the UK, even after fighting for our country for years. Even those who served for the maximum 25 years struggled to remain in the UK, regardless of medals, wounds or rank.
Things became worse when the government decided to disband several Gurkha units, and so a campaign spearheaded by actress Joanna Lumley was launched to try and reverse the state of affairs. She was successful, but only to a point; the government managed to spinelessly squirm its way out of honouring the Gurkhas, and would grant leave to remain to only those who had enlisted after 2006 and earned the Military Medal (MM). To anyone who cared to look at the finer details, it was hardly fair. Personally, I think we should just copy the model of the French Foreign Legion, wherein French citizenship is granted after six years of service. Actually, my friend Garry, who still serves in the Army, told me that the Foreign Legion has become a popular choice for former Gurkha soldiers who are facing deportation to Nepal after their service is complete. Quite how this is fair when whole sections of British cities are dominated by Muslim Asian communities who were born overseas is anyone’s guess. I don’t know what the government fears. Terrorist reprisal for ‘discriminating’ against Muslims? The oil sheikhs threatening to turn off the tap if their fellow Muslims aren’t having a good time in the UK? I have no idea.
To get back onto topic slightly. I’ve just watched the statement from Lee Rigby’s family about his murder, and it’s without shame I can admit I cracked up as his family talked about their son, and if you watch and don’t feel the need to cry, you’re not human. I think it’s time that we in Britain admitted that there is a problem with the Islamic community. I remember after the BBC reported on the Boston bombings, a week later their breaking news read ‘Tsarnaev brothers may have had religious motives’. May have? Do you think so, BBC?
I also recall the outcry from my ‘liberal’ friends, who were screaming and shouting behind their keyboards, ‘Just because it’s a bomb doesn’t mean it’s a Muslim! It’s probably some psycho American!’. Well, surprise surprise, the perpetrators turn out to be Muslim. What do you know? Funnily enough, they went quiet after that.
I have no idea what the solution to society’s problem is; how radical Islam can be eliminated and how normal Muslim people can live their lives without fear of attack by racist, ignorant hooligans. Normally I’d suggest education, or something like that, but during my school days, when we were learning about Islam some of the pupils reacted with outright hostility to the claims that it was a ‘religion of peace’. Their arguments weren’t aggressive, or racist, but rooted in the fact that almost every major terrorist incident over the last twenty or thirty years has been caused by Muslims. I think the argument of ‘Oh, well, Islam doesn’t advocate what they did, they just interpreted it wrong’ can wear pretty thin, especially after these Islamic terrorist attacks keep on happening. I also remember watching a video during my school days of a young Muslim lad travelling around English schools talking about Islam. I remember being shocked when a young English girl who couldn’t have been older than 6, was talking about the Night of Power, wherein Muhammad was alleged to have had dictated the first verses of the Koran to him. I don’t think that’s right. When I was 6, I was learning about Jesus and the story of St. George, traditional aspects of our society and our culture. I’ve never liked ‘multiculturalism’, especially not like this. I don’t even know what ‘multiculturalism’ even means anymore. I love Chinatowns and authentic Japanese restaurants, to say nothing of the rich contributions made to society by Indian families over the past God-knows-how-long. But it just doesn’t seem the same as Muslims who immigrate to the UK and then hate the place.
Since there was also an incident on board a flight from Pakistan to Britain today, wherein two Pakistani men tried to take control of the pilots cabin, I imagine that patience for Muslims in the UK is wearing pretty thin at the moment. I’d like it if something positive came out of all this, that somebody, somewhere, came up with some way to make society progress as a whole without splintering it further. But that’s not up to me, and anyway, I think I might as well ask for the moon to turn bright pink.
Finally, if by any chance anyone who knew Lee Rigby is reading this, I can’t even begin to put my sympathy into words. It’s just awful, but I’m confident he’ll never be forgotten. Rest in peace.