Thoughts: Manchester Attack

I’m a bit late in writing this, as it will probably be two days since the attack when you’re reading this. As you may know, I only started my blog yesterday, and I needed time to collect my thoughts before I could write them down. Whenever an atrocity like this happens, it shocks us all, and the first things we say are often not our true opinions, but anger or fear in the heat of the moment. I wanted to eliminate that bias, as much as possible, before writing this for you.

If for some reason any of you don’t know what happened, in short, a man carried out a suicide bombing in the foyer of an arena in Manchester, as people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert. At the time of writing 22 are confirmed dead, including several children, the youngest of whom was 8 years old, and 59 are injured and have been/are being treated in hospital.

The thing that made this attack different from others, for me personally, is that it is close to home. I live about an hour’s drive from Manchester, and I knew people who were at that concert (all unharmed, thankfully). People complain (and understandably so) that people in western countries only care about attacks that happen near to them, and whilst that isn’t a good thing, it is understandable. We don’t want to acknowledge that tragedies happen, and they’re much easier to ignore when they’re far away. When they happen a few miles from where you live, you can’t ignore it, and it hits you much harder. We should all care about all the suffering in the world, but there’s too much. Sometimes you are forced to focus on what is happening around you.

I am very shaken up, so I can’t imagine how survivors, injured people and families of the victims must be feeling. It was an abhorrent act of extreme cowardice, targeting primarily young girls who would have been at the concert. However, as well as doing everything in our power to support the victims and their families, I think the most important thing for people who feel involved but are not, at least directly, to be doing, is to look at where we are directing our anger. It is perfectly natural to be angry, but the person we should be angry at is dead, so sometimes we try to find other places to direct our anger. The man was allegedly an Islamic extremist, and so-called Islamic State have taken responsibility for the attack (although in my opinion, they take credit for anything like this in order to look more powerful, regardless of whether they actually had any input or not). I want to stress something to you. Muslims are not terrorists. Muslims are not the enemy.

Just imagine that you’ve woken up to hear about the tragedy this morning, like everyone else. You’re shocked and devastated, of course, that someone could do something like that, but on top of the empathy you feel for others, you know that now your life is at risk, because it is almost certain that members of your community will be attacked as ‘justice’ or ‘revenge’ for the attack that you had nothing to do with. This is the way many obviously Muslim (e.g. women who wear the hijab or niqab, men who wear the jubba – apologies if names are wrong, I’m no expert) people will be feeling. Is that fair?

I know that it’s awful, and I’m in no way denying that, but blaming an entire community for the actions of one or a few of its members accomplishes nothing, and only serves to alienate people who could be some of our closes allies in fighting the disease that is terrorism. No one rushes to blame all white people or all Christians every time a neo-Nazi murders someone. Muslims are no more linked to Islamist terrorists than Christians are linked to Nazis. If you need further reason to believe what I’m saying, Donald Trump thinks all Muslims are terrorists. Donald Trump thinks that all Mexicans are rapists. Donald Trump is a judgemental moron. Don’t be like Donald Trump. That’s all.

 

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