Little Green Footballs

Monday, July 11, 2005

For Shahara's sake, don't hate Muslims

Here's an editorial by Tony Parsons ofThe Mirror that will fly directly over the head of your average LGF 'minion' and their ponytailed cult leader.

IN THE aftermath of Thursday's mass murder, it was one of the first pieces of breaking news: the Muslim Council of Great Britain had been sent so many hate emails that its computers had crashed.

Not true. Or at least, it is not true that so many people felt a sudden loathing for Muslims that they were compelled to bombard the Muslim Council of Great Britain with hate email.

Because it now turns out that 30,000 emails were sent to the Muslim Council from just one source.

Anyone anticipating rivers of blood will be disappointed. It is not going to happen. The British people are better than that.

The victims came from everywhere. Even those of us who live in London must have felt bewildered at the sheer range of humanity who were caught up in the bombings of London's transport system.

The victims, the survivors, the missing - they represent every creed and colour on the planet. They were black, brown, white. They were Christian, Hindu, Jew, Muslim. They were from Poland, Israel, Indonesia, everywhere.

Those caught up in Thursday's mass murder also represent every corner of these islands.

As survivors emerged from the smoking wreckage of train and bus, they spoke in accents that came from Glasgow and Liverpool, Newcastle and Essex, and it was a glimpse of London's eternal, unchanging heart - a great city where people come to find work, to build a better life, to make a dream or two come true.

BUT one face haunts the pages of our newspapers. One young, lovely, smiling face, and it is the face of Shahara Akther Islam - a true Briton, a young East Ender and a devout Muslim.

Shahara is missing. You have no doubt seen her face in your paper; you have no doubt seen her family on your television. Her uncle does the talking because her father and her grandfather try to speak and the words will just not come. The emotion is too great, the grief is too raw and the pain is too much to bear.

And to those who now talk about "effing Muslims", I say: How can you hate this girl? How can you hate her family? Their pain is beyond our imagination, and their suffering is our own.

Shahara was 20 years old, and her faith meant nothing to the bombers. They were indiscriminate in their murder. They slaughtered Muslim just as they slaughtered Christian, Jew and atheist.

The men who placed those bombs did so in the name of a warped, fanatical, perverted form of their faith. But we cannot, and must not, use that as an excuse to hate all Muslims. If we do, we give aid and succour to the murderous cowards who carried out this satanic act.

Do not hate Muslims because of bloody Thursday. Save your hatred for those who have surely earned it.

Shahara is a lesson for us all. This lovely young woman saw no contradiction in being both a Muslim and a Briton.

She was born in Whitechapel to a family who came here from Bangladesh, and although she could have gone to university she chose to go out into the working world because she had the modern young woman's taste for designer clothes. Hate her? Hate her family? In God's name how? Why?

I don't think I am imagining it, but I truly believe that race relations in this country have improved since Thursday. I feel that people are going out of their way to be friendlier than they usually are, to be more helpful, to show that we are all in this thing together.

The men who carried out Thursday's bombings may be Muslims, but their acts are so despicable that they completely separate themselves from the rest of their faith.

What gutless cowards they are, the murderers of al-Qaeda. Their motto is: "Why kill a tiger when there are so many sheep?" A motto for cowards.

The bombings of Thursday are no more an expression of Islam than the IRA's bombs were an expression of Catholicism. We should think of the smiling face of Shahara Akther Islam and know that there is no place for religious hatred in our society.

That does not mean we have to be soft. That does not mean we have to be crippled by political correctness. That does not mean we are beaten already.

The hideous websites which support al-Qaeda gloat that London is full of fear. Anyone who walks these streets knows that is just a pathetic lie.

Londoners are carrying on as normal - they are a tough, resilient, stroppy bunch. And they also have to get to work to put food on their table and to pay the rent.

London carries on - partly out of the quiet courage that is a hallmark of our people, and partly out of economic necessity.

If Osama bin Laden himself was running naked down The Mall, we would still have to pay our mortgage next month.

That's the way we win this strange new war - by carrying on. By not despising someone for their religion or skin colour. By being ourselves.

But the men who placed those bombs should not mistake our tolerance for weakness. They should never mistake our generosity for stupidity. They should not confuse our belief in freedom for a lack of will.

NOW, more than ever, we need to show all British people that they are valued the same, and that includes the Muslim community.

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