The brutal slaughter of British soldier Lee Rigby in downtown London was not only shocking. It was also a horrible reminder of recent history when there was controversy surrounding the Muslims’ integration in European and Western societies and when extremist slogans and speeches within that environment appeared.
One has to admit that it does not seem that plenty of changes have occurred in recent years.
A mere 48 hours after the crime, a total of 150 reactions resulting from hatred were recorded. The reactions monitored were about ten times the number of attacks linked to Islamophobia. The police drowned in complaints regarding racist comments against Muslims - either graffiti drawings or comments on social networking websites.
To say that Britain has entered a war against Islam following the murder of Lee Rigby does not reflect truthDiana Moukalled
It could be portrayed as a chaos, one that resembles what society is going through in order to search for their identities. As result of this process of identity specification, a lot of Muslim communities have been affected in the west. British dailies raise questions about both the British jihadists who died in the fighting in Syria and those who are still involved in the fight. A diverse number of articles have questioned the impact of those returning from Syria, such articles liken the inevitable situation to the return of mujahedeen from Afghanistan over three decades ago.
Plenty of articles raise questions about the mentality those jihadists will bring back when they return to Britain from Syria in an attempt to draw comparisons with those societies that received fighters who returned from Afghanistan more than three decades ago.
One must observe the extent of Europe’s occupation in this discussion. It is a vital and an important discussion that also includes racial statements such as the tweet made by the head of the British National Party in which he called for wrapping the soldier’s killers in pig’s skin and shooting them dead. The latter’s statement have sparked both anger and worry.
No war against Islam
To say that Britain has entered a war against Islam following the murder of Lee Rigby does not reflect truth. Amidst the anger against Muslims, there are plenty of discussions, via media outlets and social networking websites, on how such a murder occurred and on how to contain its repercussions.
For example, there is an expanded campaign in British universities to prevent extremism and to explain to students what they can do to restrain hatred. These campaigns are part of an expanded discussion on the strategy to fight extremism and the extent of its success. It’s an issue mainly linked to Muslims themselves and to the rhetoric of groups among them.
He who monitors the discussions and debates in Britain concerning the London crime might develop an impression about this society as being involved in dilemmas which forces it into reevaluating the values upon which its legal framework is based. This forced reevaluation occurs according to the dictates of moral consensus.
When looking at it this way, it seems that the media is the arena for these discussions. Our values as Muslims are further monitored and inquired by others and not by us. The question here is on our stance regarding this discussion,our stance on our relations with others and our relations with our collective community. We must also discuss the role of our media in launching discussions similar to those launched by Western media.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on June 3 2013.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.