Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot
It was with shock I turned my phone on early this morning and saw Manchester being talked about by everyone. There is always shock when a bombing or attack happens but one involving young people always hurts more. It was with tears my teenage daughter spoke to me after waking and finding out about it; she felt it all the more because a lot of the people involved were teenage girls just like her. Her friends have attended concerts where they’re dropped off by parents who have a meal before they all meet up to go home. Seeing the parents searching for their children, teenagers trying to get to safety was heart-breaking; a terror attack is designed to inspire fear; is the heartbreak just a by-product?
My daughter went to college but messaged me from there saying she was lying low during breaks as she couldn’t face anyone; Manchester was the only topic of conversation and people were mentioning social media comments about Muslims. At school yesterday, my youngest daughter had been speaking in a lesson about the Women’s March Westminster Bridge vigil and why Ahmadi Muslim women had joined to show solidarity with their country and condemnation of terrorism; she was heartened by the response from her classmates but today has become wary of their reaction. That is the everyday result on ordinary Muslim children, of a terror attack these days.
As someone who partly remembers and has read about the Troubles I have told my children what it was like in the recent past as bombings occurred in many towns in England as well as with sickening regularity in Northern Ireland. Bombings and terror are not a new thing and when one group stops the terrorising of innocent people another group is always ready to take its place; history has shown us this down the ages.
When Islam is condemned for being violent I recall verses from the Holy Qur’an which teach me how wrong this condemnation is. Chapter 5, verse 33 says “Whosoever killed a person it shall be as if he had killed all mankind”. The Holy Prophet (peace be on him) taught respect for those of other faiths and that the innocent should never be harmed even in a state of war. That is the Islam that I follow and that the vast majority of Muslims the world over follow.
But at this moment and in an age of global media that can be small comfort when extremists begin stirring up hatred which spreads in an instant. Rather than simply showing solidarity with those affected they only talk about blame, they create divisions making it the innocent us against the violent them. At this point terrorism has gained another victory by weakening the bonds that make us stronger.
Other than simply inspiring terror, the reasons behind terrorist atrocities may be complex but whatever the case we must hold firm and stand together united against all forms of terrorism and extremism. That way we will be gaining a victory against those that work to divide us.