A Rise Of Islamophobia In Britain Will Not Bring Us Peace

A Rise Of Islamophobia In Britain Will Not Bring Us Peace

We do not resolve terrorism with more terrorism.

Nations around the world live in an unsettling time of extremism making itself known in horrific acts of destruction that steals innocent lives, but groups like the EDL (English Defence League) and other far-right groups in Britain, my home country, continue to use these acts to engage in xenophobic, Islamophobic abuse. Anger is justified, but it cannot be taken out on the innocent, and we must protect our fellow Muslim communities from this.

While it does not detract from the monstrous events that have taken place in my nation, we must bear in mind that extremists are not just attacking Britain and its values: terrorism is an attempt to incite fear and create a divide in all places it touches. A car bomb in Kabul last month killed over 150 civilians as they observed Ramadan, a time of peace and prayer. A bombing in Manchester took 22 innocent lives away, many of which children, at a concert, meant for leisure and escapism. Extremists like Daesh know to target innocents because the overwhelming response of fear and anger drive people apart.

Dividing people works for organisations like Daesh: it knows that the resulting alienation of Muslims in Western countries can convince young people to join its cause, according to director of Giraffe Heroes International, John Graham, because it suggests a haven from the injustices inflicted upon them. This does not justify anyone’s attempt to commit violence against others, but extremist groups will use any form of manipulation to expand their cause.

But what this terrorism also does not justify is the continued abuse served to Muslim communities in the West, something I fear is growing in Britain. Far-right activists like Tommy Robinson manage to draw right-wing nationalist followers that claim Muslims are destroying Britain, and are growing in support on social media. We had a white terrorist succeed in murdering a group of Muslims leaving their prayer.

We do not resolve terrorism with more terrorism.

We should not equate the actions of extremists to our Muslim communities because we did not do the same for white people when British white supremacist, Thomas Mair, murdered Labour MP Jo Cox. It makes no sense to vilify the innocent for the acts of the guilty.

We have no basis for coalescing Islamist extremists with everyday Muslims either, especially when Daesh wishes to commit these injustices during Ramadan, a time of holiness for Muslims, and constantly inflict them with harm.

We must respond like Manchester did after its dreadful attack: reject the nationalists that aim to use extremist violence as a tool to motivate xenophobia through fear, and we must unite with our fellow Muslim Britons because they bear no responsibility for the act of terrorists.

It needs to be remembered that terrorism from organisations like Daesh is an attack on all of us as Britons, not just a select few of a certain faith, race and identity. America has long faced an increasing attack on Muslims, Human Rights Watch reported, and my country desperately needs to avoid this path.

We must not give into the desire of extremists like Daesh that want to dissolve our peace, but we cannot resort to the dividing tactics far-right groups are using that will further instigate this. The peace we desire and the nation we wish to be proud of will never arise from hatred.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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So, What IS Modern Day Feminism?

We need to realize that we will have disagreements and different views. But through listening and understanding, we can achieve real change.

Feminism. A word that holds a lot of weight. There are a lot of emotions and mixed feelings attached to it. Many people have definitions of feminism. So I asked everyone I knew what feminism means to them and how they define it. The responses have been interesting. I have received the common expected answers and some unusual ones that have given me a new perspective.

The first wave of responses dealt with the usual perspectives. How feminism is an outdated concept, that is unnecessary for the time we live in. That it sets us back and makes every little thing some type of oppression, when it really isn't. The other typical perspective is, "Screw the patriarchy, women need to be in power and control." These are the perspectives we are used to and that are usually presented in the media. We don't usually see the views that meet in the middle or offer a unique take. Those were the views greater in number that took me by surprise and challenged my view.

A close friend of mine, who is not a stranger on Odyssey, is Aasha. She told me how she defines feminism as "the promotion and protection of equity for all women and their intersectional identities." Her definition stems from the fact she is someone who is the embodiment of kindness and wisdom. It also stems from her experience of living in India her freshmen year of high school and exposure to serious gender issues globally.

My other friend, who happens to be a male, shared with me that he believes in women coming together to support one another and gain equal opportunity. However, it can be taken into an extreme when it doesn't have to be. Men need to be open and accepting towards feminism, but as a society, these extreme measures undermine the real issues that need to be front and center.

Along those same lines, a friend of mine agreed but feels that the extreme measures taken overshadow the real issues at hand. Allowing for feminism to become something that is for the betterment of women and not equality. A view shared by many of the people who contacted me was that they were not a feminist or do not like to associate with the movement.

A person that I hold in high regard told me what they thought about the topic. They said, "to me, feminism is the understanding that all women deserve not just equality, but liberation. All women, as in women of color (black women in particular) and queer women and disabled women and transgender women and working-class women and women that fit more than one of these categories.

Feminism is not just showing up to one march or sharing articles on Facebook and calling it a day. It’s holding the people you love accountable when they say, “Oh, she looks like a man” or “She’s dressed like a slut.” It’s not necessarily the female CEO or solider.

After all, what about that CEO’s exploitation? Feminism shouldn’t seek to uphold existing oppressive structures, and it should be predicated on the idea of collective liberation. No one is free until everyone is free. By extension, no woman is free until every woman is free." I know it is a lot, but I think what they had to say was important and went beyond the general ideas that exist regarding feminism.

I wanted to explore this topic because I do not think it's something that is really discussed. I feel that there are two categories formed and people are placed into them. That should not be the case because there are never two sides. I know as human beings we are fascinated with making everything simple, but sometimes we just need to accept and embrace that things are complex and messy. There is a beauty to it and even when it's hard to confront, we should try to listen and understand. That should always be our goal.

I identify as a feminist and I define feminism as the support and respect for all women, their identities and to have the same equal opportunities as men. It does sting a bit when I hear other women say that they are not feminists or that they don't really support feminism, but I realized that it does not make them terrible people. They have valid reasons that I tried to listen to and understand. Although I have my own views and stand strongly by them, I recognize other views on this topic and give them the same respect and weight that I give to my own. Because for us as a society to make change, we need to realize there is not just one way or right way to do things.

We need to realize that we will have disagreements and different views. But through listening and understanding, we can achieve real change.

Cover Image Credit: American Life League / Flickr

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Blank Slate, And It's Okay

Original poetry for when your thoughts don't seem to align or fill up space.

This poem came to me during a time when I felt so overwhelmed with my thoughts. In these thoughts, I found doubt and uncertainty about what I wanted for the future. I had to remind myself that it's okay to not have the answers, to have this blank slate of sorts. However, I know that a permanent blank slate stunts the growth for dreams. I was aware that my slate had to be filled. This is to the dreamers who have blank slates: it's okay to fill them now.

You think too often or you think too much

It may seem as if your thoughts come out in a rush

But it’s ok to have a blank slate

Maybe it’s a thought that was once dominant,

It ruled the world of yours and all in it

And then, too swiftly, it became unimportant

A blank slate

Or maybe it was shifted out with a different thought,

The later, having filled more space

Created more color or meaning

It’s okay to have a blank slate

To not want to add anything else to your mental pallet

But please, be aware for a blank slate could become permanent,

An unending maze of never being able to fill in the space

A winding road of nothing and pieces of unknown

No color to call ‘mine’ and meaning that says ‘none’

Above all else, don’t allow a blank slate to be the work of someone else

For it belongs to you

Too many try to erase space or create space in thoughts that don’t involve them

Thoughts that maybe were once about them

Thoughts that maybe they once occupied

But a blank slate should be created by you and for you

Ruled by you

Filled by you

Conquered by you

So, a blank slate is ok

But don’t let it stay that way

Your mind belongs to you

Your thoughts belong to you

Even in our moments of uncertainty

Even in our hours of sadness and anger

It is your space to fill or erase

Maybe it seems strange to some

And the stares are sure to ensue

Maybe it angers others

And they feel you are uncaring or unkind

But it is this blank slate in which you can

Think freely or escape freely

Whatever you decide, please remember

That a blank slate should not keep you confined

It should not keep you blank

It should calm you within the moment

And provide a safe space for you and only you

So, be careful, be aware

That a blank slate for too long can keep you chained

To never return again

Keep a blank slate

But don’t let it stay that way

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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