After the events of last week in Europe, France, Belgium and Germany involving what I call criminal elements bent on terrorizing society to advance their personal point of view, we heard politicians and experts speak but not convincingly.
Politicians and their experts like to use words like Islamists, Djihadists, terrorists and so on, this is done to give the public an easy target. The politician can then propose more security measures, convincing you that you should allow for less freedoms so they can enforce more and more draconian laws. The so-called experts, nowadays are a dime a dozen, simply repeat the same nonsense, much of it third person anecdotes or use the air time to push the book they just wrote. What really upsets me is how much erroneous information is out there, much of what we hear falls in the category of old wives tales or historical stereotypes. In the old Roman Republic 2700 years ago, there were threats to the survival of Rome and politicians constantly asked for more power and money to solve the problem. The enemy was as exterior force bent on destroying Roman Republican values. Julius Caesar asked for dictatorial powers to solve the problems brought on by the Civil War he had engineered, some people thought it a good idea, though a party in the Senate did not and we know what happened on the Ides of March. Closer to us in the 19th century and 20th century many Nationalistic groups carried out attacks against governments and heads of State.
In 1917 in Russia, the terrorists were called Bolcheviks, in Germany at the same time you had the Spartakist, in 1924 in Croatia there was the Oustachis. in the early 70’s Black September did some spectacular attacks, Germany and Italy had the Red Brigades terror groups. All this to say that various groups at times of troubles will push an agenda based on terror of the masses, the political class always answers in the same way, first minimizing the events and then asking to be given more power for security reasons. After September 2001 the media claimed loudly that the world had changed forever, really, forever? Airports now have so much ”theatre of security” that flying anywhere is unpleasant, each passenger being treated as a potential terrorist, including the 8 month old baby who just pooped in his diaper.
Now we are told by our politicians and the media, the new terrorists are home-grown, it could be your neighbours kids, according to a recent article in the Ottawa Citizen. The kid next door is probably an Islamists or Djihadists, better keep an eye on those pesky neighbours. It would appear that logic has deserted us all together.
The parallel with the books of George Orwell are there for all to see, we are told by the powers that be who is the enemy. In Ottawa and in Montreal we had 2 incidents in October where members of the Armed Forces were killed by so-called Muslim extremists, home grown radicalized youths. I do not buy it, in both cases, they were young men with mental health issues, drug and alcohol abuse issues and apparently recent converts to Islam, whose lives where spinning out of control. One was convinced the Devil was going to kill him and heard voices, the other had a life of failures and rejection, no work and estranged from his family, parents divorced and absent from their lives for many years. Both were killed in action and no one claimed them as being part of a greater conspiracy. Though our Prime Minister immediately proposed more powers for himself for the sake of security.
With the events in Paris and the 17 people killed by 3 criminal youth, the media and the politicians again united to vent on the current and present danger these ”Radicalized Islamists” quite the mouthful when you think of it, are out to get us.
What I profoundly find irritating is the fact that most journalists and their friends the experts and police spokespersons know next to nothing of Islam, use non stop clichés and easy images, claim that what is going on in Nigeria or Syria could very well happen here or be exported to our shores. This is truly grasping at straws since none of them wish to appear as not knowing what they are talking about. Ignorance and misunderstanding is spread around and no one bothers to examine more closely the situation or facts or more interestingly the total failure of our Intelligence Services who have ballooning budgets.
In my experience living and traveling in the Middle-East for many years, I never encountered angry Muslims or radicalized or fanatical Islamists whatever you may wish to call them. My work did take me in the field and out of cities, I met rich and poor, young and old, men and women. I also realize that hostility often comes from perceptions, I remember Western women being enraged because they could not enter a Mosque wearing tank tops and hot pants. Same women would have said nothing when refused entrance in a Christian Church for being inappropriately dressed. I heard often in conversations Westerners mocking Arabs, the phrase was ”If they worked as hard as they pray their countries would not be a hellhole”. However I never heard similar statements from Muslims about Westerners, despite the irritating and condescending attitudes they encountered.
As for Europe, the negative attitudes and the marginalization of segments of the immigrant population by natives is nothing new. In many European countries with a long Colonial past, discrimination and racism is part for the course even towards those who were born and bred in Europe. Attitudes are somewhat better in Canada but again we must beware of myths on multiculturalism and diversity which often hide deeper sociological problems.
All this to say that the Muslim population is very diverse and spread around the world in many countries and continents. I know a lot of Muslims, some religious others not. They are funny, generous, kind, respectful, adaptable and do not try to impose their values on others. They too are appalled by acts of terror and afraid of these radicals just as much as anyone else. They also rightly point out that you can call yourself a Muslim or anything else for that matter, but it is wrong to hijack a religion to commit crimes against people.
I know from my reading of the Koran and the Hadith (sayings) of the Prophet that violence is not the way of Islam and the message is one of peace, charity, faith, generosity towards others and good deeds. I am also reminded that Islam comes from Judaism and Christianity, we share all the same prophets, Jesus included and Mary is venerated as the mother of Jesus. This is why when I hear or read stories where Islam is painted as the religion of terrorists, I find this totally wrong and frankly ignorant of established facts. I also do not accept as anti-Muslim arguments selective choosing of some passages of the Koran to attack Islam as a Faith. You can do the same thing with the Bible if you choose certain passages to denigrate Christians.
As for those who commit acts of terror, to me they are criminals pure and simple. They can claim all they want to be acting on behalf of Islam, God or the Prophet, any reasonable person will see that as a bold face lie. Politicians would do well not to give these criminals importance with titles or attributes.
Muslims live in Western democracy and have done so for a very long time and have integrated themselves very well into society, in Canada they represent about 1.5% of the total population. Yes, images of the Prophet are blasphemy and disturbing, but I too am disturbed when Christian religious images are used to mock in making an ideological point or insult a group in our society. Maybe people doing this should think of other ways to express their point of view within our established concept of Freedom of Expression as understood in Western Democracies. Insults are never good arguments and will not win you friends. Only through knowledge of the other can we dismiss arrogant youths and their ignorant beliefs or any other violent criminal groups like ISIS or ISIL or Boko Aram. As for a solution to the problem of violence inflicted on innocent people, vigilance can help and it is up to us denounce such acts as criminal doings and not accept the facile explanation of the Media or grasping politicians.