Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of TheSprout. We are a platform for young people in Cardiff to share their views, news, and opinions.
In the space of three months, Britain has been hit by three terrorist attacks, leading to the introduction of armed officers on the streets of the UK and more sinisterly, an outbreak of hate crimes relating to Islam – an active sign of Islamophobia. After the Manchester Arena Attack of 22nd May, hate crimes reported to Greater Manchester Police doubled by 50%. (28 on Monday, the average and 56 on the Wednesday after). These included a bomb threat, racial taunts and graffiti. This is never OK.
To fully understand the issue, it is important to look into the complex background of this constantly evolving situation. Terrorists, “jihadists”, are men and women who believe in the importance of Islamism, the desire to impose a harsh conservative version of Islam on wider society. Since the 1990s, terrorist cells have been engaged in jihad, the waging of war against the “infidel west”.
ISIS who claim responsibility for the recent terrorist attacks in the UK follow an ultra-conservative form of Islam known as Salafism established in Egypt during the late 1900s as a rejection of British colonial rule. Salafist jihadists reject democracy and Shia law believing that Sharia law should be imposed by a leader – in the case of ISIS Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Sharia law regulates all aspects of a person’s life including public behaviour and private beliefs. Examples of Sharia law include the death penalty for those who criticise the Qur’an, child marriage (when the child is past the age of 9) and the prevention of women from driving.
As we can see, this is a very extreme form of Islam and so it is therefore unfair to label all Muslims as extremists and terrorists when in reality Sharia law and Salafism is viewed as the correct way by some. To put it into context, the KKK are an extremist Christian group who believe in white superiority and in the past have lynched black people. If we were to treat people as some treat Muslims, then surely all Christians are racist and evil?
Islam is a religion of peace, not of brutality.
By nature, Islam is a peaceful religion and according to a recent article by the Independent Newspaper “Islam is a guideline for living peacefully along with people of all other religions and nationalities”. This completely defeats the view that terrorists are carrying out these acts on a religious basis as they are breaking a key idea of Islam – that all the world should live in peace. Islamophobia is therefore not morally right, since the people who conduct these atrocities are not in fact Muslim but disenfranchised, angry and violent members of our society. The Islamic community of the UK condemn the work of terrorists and this can be seen in the words of Sajjid Haider a businessman, Shia leader and organiser of the Manchester Peace Walk2. Haider said that the march was organised to “show solidarity… to give a strong message against terrorism and a clear message that [the people who committed this act] are evil animals”.
To summarise, it is important to recognise the differences between normal forms of Islam and that followed by extremist groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda. These groups by name are extremist groups which tells us that they are different from the rest of the Islamic worldwide community. Islam is a religion of peace, not of brutality. A religion of love and acceptance, not of prejudice and discrimination. The recent terrorist attacks are designed to shock and polarise our society, and to draw vulnerable groups into the hands of extremists be it ISIS or even far-right groups in the UK. The thing that scares these extremist groups the most is a society where everybody is accepted for who they are and where everybody has access to equal opportunities. Therefore, the way to defeat extremist groups is not with violence and warfare which will help their cause but with love, acceptance and peace.
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