Terrorism and Extremism UK

Notes & Comments – Revenge or Rebuild?

5The Review of Religions – August 2005 The middle of July 2005 will be remembered for many events, but for me, living in London, two key events stand out. Firstly, on the 6th of July, London won the right to stage the Olympics. This was partly on the basis that London is such a cosmopolitan city. Every race and religion on the planet is represented here. Yet, the euphoria turned to distress less than 24 hours later when a series of explosions on buses and trains in the city left more than 50 dead, and hundreds injured. It did not take long for the spotlight to be on Islamic extremists. This pathetic and cowardly crime had been inflicted upon ALL Londoners of all faiths and cultures. The Mayor of London, Mr Ken livingstone, stated that we need to rebuild our c o m m u n i t y, and ensure that the terrorists are not able to divide us. Just four days later, the 11th of July marked the 10th anniversary of the atrocities in Bosnia when 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred at Srebrenica at the hands of the Christian Orthodox Serb extremists. At the memorial service, the Imam of Srebrenica turned to his congregation and spoke of the rebuilding the community of Bosnia. He declared that revenge was not the religion of the Bosnian Muslims and not the Bosnian way of doing things. As a first step to rebuilding relations in this troubled part of the world, there were Serbs present at the service. Given the ethnic and religious strife that we have seen around Co m m e n t s &Notes Revenge or Rebuild? 6 The Review of Religions – August 2005 the world in recent decades, these messages are heartening and commendable. Rebuilding com- munities is the only way of putting an end to the trauma, and preventing a vicious and never- ending cycle of violence. Revenge is a disease of the heart that only leads to escalation and a circle of hate and violence. It is much better to analyse the causes of tension and dispute and find ways to bring diverse people together. Terrorists think that they are brave when they attack ordinary civilians, and sometimes commit suicide in the process. Yet, they often mask their faces, change their identities, and attack innocent and defenceless civil- ians – men, women, children, young and old. Where is the bravery in that? Where are the ethics in that? What theology would ever sanction that from its followers? It would also not be unreasonable for the families of victims to harbour some form of distrust against the communities involved in the deaths of their loved ones. Yet, Islam teaches that forgiveness is better, and helps to heal the soul. In both tragedies in J u l y, how uplifting that the injured parties were talking about rebuilding lives and communities rather than being hellbent upon revenge. History may look back on this approach with pride and satisfaction. Taking such a stance takes a lot of bravery, maturity and wisdom, and that is what we should look for from our leaders also. May God help ease the pain of the suffering, and help to mend rifts in their societies. May God also avert the hands of the mischief makers and terroristsand guide them to the true teachings of their faiths that they tend to distort Tanveer Khokhar – UK NOTES AND COMMENTS