First we were men then we were brothers, now we are just dumb voyeurs

The stream of racist slurs on social media shows a lack of education that is rotting away certain sections of society; It’s time to re-open the debate on foreign policy in the Middle East.

Yesterday Woolwich was a scene of terror after the horrific execution of an unnamed young man by two men.

Woolwich image

It was a truly harrowing moment that has lit up the social media corridors of Facebook and Twitter as various videos and pictures were taken and immediately uploaded online by various eyewitnesses.

The above picture shows the attacker talking to a witness whilst using Jihadist rhetoric:

“We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reasons we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth. We must fight them. I apologise that women had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you.”

The man is referring to British foreign policy in the Middle East, which in the past and present has had heavy involvement in the Middle East since before the First World War. For instance with regards to recent activity in Afghanistan, the British government intervened/waged war (depending on your perspective) to remove the Taliban in an effort to fight Al-Qaida and terrorism. In summary, Britain has interfered/intervened directly and indirectly in various areas such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our foreign policy has been divisive to say the least. There are some who believe we are trying to do good and there are others who believe that we are doing far more harm (obviously this does not justify the actions of these two men). However it can be argued that our foreign policy is not open to debate and persevered with unflinchingly, leaving Britain to look suspiciously like some of the dogmatic governments that we are waging war on ideologically and literally.

Streams of racist views have since flooded the Facebook news feeds showing that there is a serious lack of education rotting into the foundations of British society. Young people in Britain are completely unaware of the history of British interference in the Middle East, which means they accept the current foreign policy like dumb voyeurs with their eyes glazed over staring into the consequences of our actions; war, division and misery.

There is a dearth in the sharing of values between different social and ethnic groups within society. Consequently many people are even unable to make the distinction between peaceful law-abiding Muslims (British and non-British) and violent maniacal terrorists who have no regard for human life and consequently contradict the very nature of Islam. It’s not only moronic and embarrassing to hear someone immediately respond with a racist slur against the billion peaceful Muslims living in the world, but it’s also sad.

We only have ourselves to blame, we are all responsible for this society that we live in; we share the same patch of earth together. We do not live in a true multicultural society in the sense that we do not truly share our values and hopes for the future with one another. Rather than fearing how our neighbour may seek to steal away our loaf of bread we should take the time to consider that he may already have a loaf of bread, in fact he may even have something better.  If we continue the metaphor further it’s evident that we should invite the neighbour over for dinner, clearly we would have a chance of sharing a better meal together.

It is too easy to divide and manipulate people if we make no effort to bring them together. Yesterday’s crime was truly horrific, over the next few days the vast majority of people in this country will no doubt unite in condemning the act and hopefully join together in paying their respects towards the family and friends of the victim. However if we are serious about preventing terrors such as this from happening again in the future than we have to go further in our efforts to unite.

It’s not enough for the government to simply condemn the actions of a terrorist. It’s time to look at the issue and reopen the debate on our foreign policy, not because we are bending to the will of the violent few but because there are millions of British Muslims and British citizens living in this country who disagree with our foreign policy in the Middle East. The British public is long overdue the opportunity for discussion and a re-education of our actions in the past in the Middle East.

This will not immediately repair the divisions that are apparent between different ethnic and social groups in Britain, however it will at least make an attempt to bring these groups closer together by offering them a shared platform for debate. We are all individuals and there is a plurality of ideas and values but if we take the time to listen to one another we might realise that we also share a number of common values.

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