Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Look Back On The Week - The Charlie Hebdo Shootings

Usually I'll try do this kind of post on Sunday or Friday but this seems like a good place to start my new blog - a look back on a recent event, questioning it from an analytical viewpoint, because what's the use in philosophical teachings if we can't apply them to everyday life and what happened last week. Today's post will focus on the Paris attacks that have cast a gloomy shadow over France. I've looked over a number of news articles referring to 'Muslim terror' and largely blaming the Muslim community for the tragic deaths of Charlie Hebdo employees, but this has led me to question whether or not this vilification is justified, and if it is indeed a fair assumption of the sole cause for the Paris shootings. I'm not convinced in all honesty, and this is why...

Firstly, it is important to make a distinction between the Muslim community in general and the people who committed the atrocities that have been so well documented by the world's media. Islam, along with Christianity, dominates the global spectrum of religious beliefs, whereas terrorist attacks are limited to very few occurrences around the world - relatively of course. Hypothetically, if you were to stop a Muslim in the street and ask them if they agreed with what happened in Paris, they would obviously tell you they didn't (if they do, Muslim or not, you should definitely report them!), and if you were to ask them whether or not their religion stipulates any propensity towards terrorism, they would certainly say no also.

Terrorists, freedom fighters and kamikazi specialists - whatever you want to call them - claim to be fighting for Islam and protecting their religion. Every religion, fundamentally, is based on compassion and love towards God and other human beings, I'm not religious personally but it's clear to see that Islam is not to blame for the Paris shootings which have occurred. In fact, I believe it to be dangerous to single out Muslim people, I think it creates fear and a misunderstanding of people around us, and this is what breeds prejudice and mistrust among human beings. David Cameron saying that Muslims must do more to stop terrorism is irresponsible and disengages western culture as one of the causes of terrorism, which it is and has been for many years. What I mean to say is that what happened last week, the Paris shootings and the prevention of further problems, is the responsibility of everyone, not just one religion or community.

I feel that all of the references to Islam in western media create a stereotypical impression which encompasses a whole faith, making the word 'Islam' synonymous with terrorism and terrorist organisations. A quick search on Google on the word 'Islam' brings up stories of how hate-preachers back the shootings, how Germany's anti-Islam rally gathers pace, whereas what the rest of the preachers are saying doesn't even make the top ten search results. It's deeply worrying that the word 'Islam' is becoming inherently linked with terrorist plots and Al-Qaeda, when the teachings of Islam encourage compassion towards all humans, and not just those who follow Allah.

Moving onto other terrorist attacks and how we can view all of this in a more enveloping way. First I would like you to think about how the western world and France has reacted to the Paris shootings - defiantly and angrily. Yes, we have all mourned for those who have lost their lives, and it would be unsurprising, all considered, to find more and more people feeling angry towards Islam, especially when you take into account the anti-Islam narrative that we are constantly being subject to in the media. So what's the flip side? Twelve people were killed in the Charlie Hebdo shootings, and although every life is important and should never be taken in such a way, in comparison the number of innocent people who have died in the US bombings on Syria recently are probably much higher, although the lack of information on who is actually being killed is limited.

Imagine a family member, or your whole family, were killed in a bomb attack from an unspecified country or organisation, the natural reaction would be to want revenge or retribution, and no one would blame you for wanting that. Now take yourself back to 2003, the invasion of Iraq - largely considered to be a war for oil field control. Is it out of the question to assume that civilians of Iraq were angry? Innocent people slaughtered for seemingly no real reason at all, other than that of financial gain, caused a hate towards the west, people wanted revenge and retribution. Is it possible to link this sort of intrusion to the upcoming rise of terrorist organisations? Unfortunately there are people in the world who are willing to exploit the extreme feelings people are subject to after tragic events occur, using those events to brain wash people into thinking they should retaliate.

Whether or not previous wars have had any bearing on the rise of Al-Qaeda or other terrorist organisations is unclear, and it may never be a question that we are able to answer. However, the unification of the human race through compassion is something we should all be striving for. That is the only way we will be able to negate the problems of terrorism, and the vilification of Islam or military attacks will not bring about any sort of harmony within the world, violence begets violence after all. It is worrying how the media plays on stereotypes and contributes to the blame game, and for any youngster who reads the papers or watches the news it would be terrible for them to gain a prejudiced understanding of the world because of misrepresentation and subliminal misguiding. So I leave you with this, a quote from Mahatma Gandhi, 'If we are to teach real peace in this world, and we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.'

Such a loaded topic can't be covered in one blog post but if you have any comments or any thoughts which I may have overlooked in what I've written, feel free to document them below in the comments section. I would love to hear from you.

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