By Steve Smyth
Once again, the “Western world” has been dealt a savage attack. Coincidentally, both the recent London attacks and the Nice, France attack happened in two places where my wife and I, along with our family, walked while on a European trip last fall.
I also have immediate family in the Manchester area near where the recent bombing attack took place. These cowardly attacks have hit too close to home to be simply brushed off.
We are told to “be calm” and to “love one another” in response to these and other attacks. We are expected to be humane and to not lash out at the people responsible for the carnage. “Be better than them” we are told.
Yet there is anger, there is disgust and frustration and yes, hatred.
The so-called “Leader of the Free World” leapt uninvited into the aftermath of the British attacks. With his trusty Twitter feed, he uses the horrible deaths of innocents to push his personal agenda forward.
It’s proof, he claims, that the strongest nation on the planet somehow needs a travel ban from some Muslim countries, (just not the ones he has business dealings with).
Trumps’ barely intelligent supporters chime in. The National Rifle Association’s minions gleefully tweet that the London attack is proof of the immediate need of firearms to defend against the advancing Muslim hordes. Never mind that 21 people were shot that day in the United States alone.
The Irish comedian Dave Allen always signed off his shows by saying “goodnight, and may your god go with you”. While I’m not what you would call a religious man, it’s not up to me to deny another the right to worship their god, or gods as the case may be.
When your right to worship intrudes on my right not to, the that’s where the problems begin. There are fanatics within all religions; Islam doesn’t hold them in exclusivity but saying that this isn’t a Muslim problem and that it doesn’t have anything to do with Islam is like saying that Catholics had nothing to do with Medieval Inquisitions.
The Inquisitions were stopped by powers within the Catholic Church, just as the Mullahs, clerics and speakers of influence within Islam must be the ones to stop the process of “radicalization” within their own mosques.
No amount of government information and intervention will make this happen. As long as the government is seen as the enemy, and any information shared with that enemy will result in oppression of Islam, then that information will not be freely shared. Radical Islam (there, I said it) is a result of a warped interpretation of very specific chapters of the Quran.
In western societies it is taught by people who wish to bring others to their demented cause and it is fed to young (mostly) men who are on society’s fringes.
The leaders and Imams must be the ones to lead the changes. Families must also be on guard against this process as well, but there must be alternatives available to de-radicalize family members.
If the only response is jail or expulsion, whether that expulsion is from the mosque, the family or even from the country, it is unlikely that they will report a family member to authorities. There must also be jobs available so that these people don’t become marginalized by society.
It is these marginalized people who are preyed upon by the individuals who radicalize them. Poverty breeds contempt for people who have everything from people who have nothing.
This conversation must be supported by people of influence within places of worship as well as by the non-Muslim society.
It is too easy to teach hatred to someone who is left out of everything that life has to offer. People who teach an agenda of hate must not be allowed to teach and live among us. Those who cannot be part of a secular and multi faith culture have no place in our society and we must stop protecting them.
If Islam is a religion of peace, it is time its followers find and define a pathway to peace, beginning within their own communities.
Steve Smyth is a past director of the Terrace-Kitimat Airport Society, which operates the Northwest Regional Airport, and a current board member of the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce.