Despite almost 14 years of Western nations waging a ‘war on terror’, not much has been achieved in the way of making the world a truly secure place for all. With Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden now considered yesterday’s news, the Iraq war that was waged after 9/11 — widely considered by critics to be “pointless” — merely gave birth to another terrorist threat in the form of ISIS. Today, some sections of the Western media continue to be awash with Islamophobic articles on an almost daily basis, further fueling the public’s misconception of Islam and its supposed roots in terrorism. This in turn has affected Britain’s immigration and multicultural policies to an extent, and has only served to further heighten levels of prejudice against Muslims.
It begs the question: has the Western response to 9/11 really been that worthwhile?
David Cameron’s response to ISIS so far has focused mainly on combating it head-on in the Middle East. On Friday, the Prime Minister criticised a statement by Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn which compared the actions of the US military with that of ISIS, claiming such sentiments would only undermine Britain’s national security. In contrast, Corbyn has opted more for damage control, saying he will apologise for the Iraq war on Labour’s behalf if elected to its leadership, has demanded the UK to leave NATO and even called for an “acceptance and understanding” of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
A lot of the rhetoric has been mainly political, with little actually being done to improve relations
A lot of the rhetoric has been mainly political, with little actually being done to improve relations with the everyday Islamic world and foster greater understanding. Members of the public can still be suspicious of Muslims, which has led to further misunderstandings and problematic incidents.
In fact, many public statements by David Cameron seem to only heighten the divide even further. One of his more infamous statements this year, made just after winning the general election, is more reminiscent of the typical rantings of a comic book villain: “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens, ‘as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone’.”
Little do people realise that the psychology of the average Islamic State terrorist is not at all different than that of any other from another background. Most recruits are usually social outcasts with a chip on their shoulder. Many have difficulty finding employment or partners. IS recruiters are fully aware of this, which is why they approach many potential candidates with the lure of women and a purpose in life.
Many would also assume that people campaigning on a holy crusade against Western moral corruption would themselves be pious at heart. Again, this has been proven wrong again and again. The infamous Jihadi John was known to have consumed alcohol and drugs and did not come from a pious background. It has also been well-documented that jihadi brides are usually raped and mistreated during their time spent among Isis militants.
Pentagon officials and intelligence analysts also concede that terrorists have a huge appetite for pornography — hardly shocking behavior for young men, but that which obviously conflicts with their self-proclaimed image of piety. In fact, laptops seized from the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in 2010 were often loaded with such videos and images. Bin Laden’s computers were also full of porn, although it has been unproven that he was watching it himself or not. Further analyses of terrorist’s favoured websites for hidden militant messages are often unproductive.
In fact, proper analysis of Islamic holy texts often conclude that terrorism, killing, suicide and the mistreatment of women are condemned in the religion, and that certain passages are twisted to justify terrorism. Not only are everyday Muslims just as ‘normal’ as anyone else living in secular society, the extremists are no different than other types of terrorists either.
By all means, go out and meet a Muslim. Be friends with them. Engage in dialogue and get educated. Then maybe someday, something can actually be done together to create meaningful change so that the threat of terrorism, hostility and racism in the world can hopefully come to an end. The last thing we need is to counter violence with even more violence.