Terrorism and Islam


On the even­ing of the 15th April social media net­works sud­denly became flooded with innu­mer­able links to reports of an explo­sion dur­ing the Boston mara­thon. Images of emer­gency ser­vices aid­ing the wounded, sec­tioned off roads and crude shots of injured run­ners pro­pelled the soon-to-fol­low gust of ‘pray­ers‘ and ‘thoughts’ that came from any­one who had access to a smart­phone, laptop or radio. How­ever as with most things Amer­ic­an there was a huge back­lash that emerged from those whose fam­il­ies were and are still forced to live under this con­stant threat and ter­ror that stems from Amer­ic­an war agen­cies.

This is not a piece of writ­ing aimed at neg­at­ing or cast­ing super­i­or rank over cer­tain lives, nor is it inten­ded to sug­gest that what happened in Boston does­n’t fall under the wide rub­ric of tragedy. How­ever what aston­ished me through­out the cov­er­age was the almost imme­di­ate ref­er­ences to Islam and the ter­ror­ism the west feels it so con­vin­cingly to engender. As I watched the sequen­tial events unfold I began to notice a com­mon thread in the syn­tax. All media sta­tions from the BBC, The Inde­pend­ent, Sky News and the Huff­ing­ton Post began to included the words bomb, ter­ror­ist and 911 in their reports. It doesn’t require a geni­us to decipher how such phras­ing would begin to influ­ence people’s think­ing because lo and behold it so very soon did.

Now, all this was quite reas­sur­ingly being dis­sem­in­ated across glob­al media plat­forms with not one stitch of evid­ence to sug­gest that an Islam­ist group were behind the incid­ent. A tor­rent of indig­na­tion was sparked over the fact that on that same day 55 people had died in an explo­sion in Iraq yet there was no men­tion of that spe­cif­ic loss of life in any news­pa­per or news site. A friend of mine on Twit­ter quite aptly stated, ‘That won’t have been the first bomb to go off some­where today. It will be the only one you’ll read about though.’

As reports came in of 3 people dead things grew more intense with vari­ous people tak­ing to the social net­works to express their dis­dain for those who can attack the inno­cent and help­less. People run­ning for char­ity. The good people of our world. Yet while all this was tak­ing place I sat back won­der­ing what then would they clas­si­fy the civil­ians of the glob­al south who wake each day to go buy their gro­cer­ies but by 4pm they’re lay­ing in a make-shift hos­pit­al bed with a miss­ing limb after a car explo­sion left 30 people dead and hun­dreds of oth­ers injured. Do they not get regarded as the good people of our world? The inno­cent and help­less? Or does the fact that cir­cum­stance draf­ted them to try and make life out of war render them unclas­si­fi­able?  Even among the ranks of those who could empath­ize with people that live in con­flict zones (propag­ated and sus­tained by Amer­ic­an for­eign policy) it still sig­ni­fies that we have quite lam­ent­ably become con­di­tioned to regard some life more pre­cious than oth­ers.

To my know­ledge humans by nature have the inca­pa­city or find it more chal­len­ging to empath­ize with people that dif­fer from them in appear­ance. If we see a pic­ture of a young boy being beaten by police and in that cap­tion we notice parts of ourselves, our broth­er or cous­in we are more incline to feel com­pas­sion for that per­son. The same could be said here, or in this case it’s more a mat­ter of nation­al iden­tity as oppose to racial affil­i­ation as pic­tures of the deceased weren’t cir­cu­lated. Yet the argu­ment can still be applied in a sim­il­ar way. For those born and raised in Bri­tain it can be said that we were in a sense raised on Amer­ic­an music, film and cul­ture. We also share a lin­guist­ic rela­tion­ship with the US plus dozens of Brit­ish sub-cul­tures were born out of those that were ini­tially Amer­ic­an. So our par­tial bond with the United States shouldn’t come as some­thing of a sur­prise, after all we are products of a social con­di­tion, regard­less how we respond to incid­ents such as these is what requires a closer bout of inspec­tion.

To con­tinu­ally use 911, Islam and ter­ror­ism in the same art­icle is very clearly demon­strat­ing where cer­tain media groups want people’s think­ing to remain. The very fact that there is noth­ing to sug­gest this was a response to America’s obses­sion with ter­ror­iz­ing coun­tries in the middle east, yet still sug­gest it to be so, irre­spect­ive of sub­tlety, is highly erro­neous. What led me in part to write this art­icle was some­thing I read in the Huff­ing­ton Post this even­ing. It was writ­ten by Andy Ostroy and titled What The Boston Attack Means For Amer­ica. The art­icle was quite frankly dis­gust­ing. Littered with jin­go­ist­ic ref­er­ences to the Septem­ber attack in 2001 with sen­tences such as this which caused me to break from the read­ing and return more com­posed. ‘The attack was a stun­ning sur­prise. No pri­or warn­ings had been received nor had the typ­ic­al pre-attack ter­ror­ist cell chat­ter been evid­ent..’ He went on, expound­ing upon the hys­teria that is con­stantly thrust upon us. In the lat­ter part of the art­icle he even pre­sup­posed, ‘Will Amer­ica even­tu­ally become like Israel, whose hardened cit­izens face each day know­ing it could very well be their last at the hands of a ter­ror­ist and his explos­ive-filled back­pack?‘  Such crass and mis­in­formed claims are the very reas­on people of a dif­fer­ent faith are tar­geted daily in the west­ern world. He ends the art­icle with, ‘In the end, while it doesn’t mat­ter wheth­er it’s a Taliban-sup­port al-Qaeda cell or an unaf­fili­ated mal­con­tent, our ulti­mate fear and loss of inno­cence is just the same.’

People of Islam­ic faith are forever being stig­mat­ized in a soci­ety that is so far removed from the eth­os of the reli­gion that in essence it has no real right to com­ment or spec­u­late on it. How­ever it does, and it does so quite crush­ingly. I am not a reli­gious man but I can see when an ideo­logy is being por­trayed unfairly. That has always been the case here, a pleth­ora of sec­u­lar Chris­ti­ans and athe­ists attempt to com­ment on Islam when their only point of ref­er­ence is a right-wing tabloid news­pa­per, or a cler­gy­man with a grudge.

What the events showed is that life unfor­tu­nately is cat­egor­ized and the death of cer­tain people from a par­tic­u­lar nation, how­ever small, are val­ued more than oth­ers. There are mul­tiple factors at play here for the simple reas­on there are mul­tiple agen­das for wars being fought over mul­tiple coun­tries. If tomor­row they dis­cov­er that it was some ‘unaf­fili­ated mal­con­tent’ who decided to express his feel­ings of anim­os­ity I can guar­an­tee you that he won’t be por­trayed as a ‘ter­ror­ist’, on the con­trary his actions will be regarded as an irre­medi­able act of insan­ity, he will be linked to hav­ing sociopath­ic tend­en­cies and the world will com­part­ment­al­ize him along with all of his for­got­ten pre­de­cessors. If on the oth­er hand the per­son hap­pens to be of a dark­er com­plex­ion, of a dif­fer­ent faith or the nature of his Eng­lish isn’t sat­is­fact­ory enough to qual­i­fy him as a true Amer­ic­an, then you can be assured that he will be deemed a true ter­ror­ist, an anti-Amer­ic­an, fan­at­ic­al, extrem­ist, fun­da­ment­al­ist and the spin doc­tors will paint their grand­est mas­ter­piece, because what Amer­ica does best is to help shoot the inno­cent man, wipe down the gun and shove it into the hand of the dead man’s broth­er while its cit­izens watch on obli­vi­ous.


Spe­cial thanks to Anthony Anaxagor­ou for this piece. For more of his works, please vis­it his web­site http://anthonyanaxagorou.com/



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