How to respond is the question to a brutal murder on the streets of London by killers shouting “Allahu Akbar” demanding we have British troops returned from Afghanistan, and EDL taking to the streets as football hooligans looking for confrontation.
Regarding pulling troops out of Afghanistan, before the murder in Woolwich YouGov reported:
YouGov’s Public Opinion polling in April of this year found that a strong majority of the British public (77%, split between leaving immediately and leaving gradually) were in favour of bringing British troops home from Afghanistan, while 14% were not in favour, and 9% said they didn’t know.
Regarding getting rid of our government, voting intentions just before the murder had Labour on 38%, Conservative 27%, UKIP 16%, Liberal Democrat 10% (Source)
Not only is there a democratic process to be used by aggrieved citizens, but a swell of public opinion to be tapped into on these issues. The young men turned their back on using these means to create their own outrage. Violence can never be legitimised in a society that allows dissent. Anyone that suggests their savagery was justified lacks credibility on the issues and is not just an enemy of reason but of humanity.
In Spain the Madrid bombings of 2004 nearly 200 were killed and over 2000 injured, and the hundreds of thousands that protested against terror was dignified and moving as Spanish people showed solidarity with each other and mourned the victims.
We can contrast that moving spectacle of solidarity, protest and movement with the English Defence League when they descended on Woolwich the night of the murder.
So how should we in the secular, humanist and atheist community show solidarity with the Muslim community? The answer I would hope would be straightforward but it is has proven on social media not to be. The statement of the obvious needs repeating unless we are prepared for others to make up for our silence.
In no particular order as all important:
1. Do not treat Muslims as a homogenous group – everyone is an individual
2. Do not dehumanise Muslims – we are all human beings
3. Calmly note our difficulties and problems with Islam – and how that impacts on Muslims too
4. Speak out against outrages to religious freedom and human rights taking place
5. Talk to each other and find out how we can stop people being radicalised by others
This will not be easy, you will lose people who think this is the time to be quiet about criticising Islam, or think you should be abandoning secular liberal principles to respond harshly to the Muslim community.
We need to speak up even more so that our voices can be heard. In a civil society commitment and enthusiasm can make a difference where will power and not brute force triumphs. These values are what bring us together in a pluralistic state.
Now is the time to stand for human rights, secularism and the democratic process.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog