At 10:30pm on Sunday, I put my popcorn in the microwave as part of my preparation to watch MoTD. When the Arsenal players came out of the tunnel, I saw that they were all wearing black armbands. The commentator acknowledged that they were worn in tribute to the victims of the recent French terror attacks. This bothered me greatly but I didn’t know why. I put it out of my mind and enjoyed watching my team cruise to a 3-0 victory. This post will not be about freedom of speech, nor defending my faith by saying that the Paris killers were not “true Muslims” or “Islam is a religion of peace”. It rings hollow to many people’s ears. I do find it deeply troubling that people will use the same words that gives me peace and comfort to terrorise others. I am Muslim and I will not apologise.
I woke up Monday morning with a heavy heart. The reason the black armbands bothered me so much was what it exposed-the value/dignity given to human life. The players wore that black armband with good intentions, but I say that if they are going to wear the black armbands for the victims of terrorism in Paris, they should wear the black armbands for the victims of terrorism in the towns of Potiskum and Baga in Nigeria; towns and cities across Iraq and Syria just to name a few. If premiership clubs decided to acknowledge the victims of terror all over the world, every game would begin with a minute’s silence and the black armband would be as much part of the shirt as the club crest. It’s the reality of the world we now live.
After the September 11 attacks, George Bush made speeches pertaining to the terrorist wanting to destroy the American way of life “democracy, free speech” etc. Western leaders have also alluded that the carnage in Paris were an attack on democracy and free speech. I am however of the opinion that it is not that simple.I find it highly disconcerting that the Western Governments including my government “fight” to defend my right to freedom; but support regimes who blatantly suppress the rights of their citizens to the same freedoms I enjoy in all its forms, free speech, the right to vote, civil liberties, human rights etc. “World leaders” show solidarity to the citizens of France but keep eerily silent when the citizens under regimes they call “allies and economic partners” are denied the same rights for which the staff of Charlie Hebdoe lost their lives. My government enacts new Parliamentary bills to fight terror on these shores to keep me safe; but sell weapons of terror to autocratic regimes who deny freedom to millions. I am a British citizen and I will not apologise.
I fear that the world is slowly but surely falling into the abyss of emotions and apathy. On the one hand, the “World” Commiserates with Parisians but on the other we are indifferent to the other victims of terror who died the same day/week. News of terror attacks in other parts of the world are taken with less interest to news of a footballer’s extra marital affair. Sadly, we are now conditioned to have different levels of emotions depending on the location and identity of the victims of terror attacks. Is the blood of a European more valuable than the blood of a Nigerian or an Arab? We all bleed red regardless of the colour of our passport.
Terrorism is the epitome of the inequality and injustice reigning in the world. I say that there is no difference between terrors reigned on the innocent based on foreign policy or religious ideology. There is no difference between an explosion that kills innocents as a result of bombs fired from a military drone or detonated by a suicide bomber; there is no difference between the terror created by the bullets fired from guns on the streets of Paris; than those from an Apache helicopter over the streets of Baghdad or Gaza.
Human beings are by their very nature violent- power, greed, envy, ego all feed this nature. I am a human being and I will not apologise. I will stand for freedom and justice for all regardless of the colour of your passport. I will pray and mourn for all victims of terror regardless of race, creed or nationality.
“The very essence of inequality and injustice is the oppression of some; for the sake of freedom for others”. Kabir Kareem-Bello
Till next time