The fear of the ‘Other’

It is no surprise in modern Western society that terror attacks in crucial locations, such as the nation’s capital, provoke fear and thought in the minds of those concerned with the preservation of a democratic society. However, the terror attack that occurred on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday 22nd March this year does not excuse the rise of unjustified racism and xenophobia towards ethnic and religious minorities in our nation, purely on the basis that the attacker in is also of an ethnic or religious minority.

It has now been revealed that the Westminster killer, Adrian Ajao, who was actually born in the United Kingdom and therefore had a largely British upbringing and set of values, converted to the most radical form of Islam only recently. Islam as a religion actually teaches peace and the word itself is actually derived from the Arabic word meaning ‘peace’. The repeated request for peace can be quite clearly seen throughout the Qu’ran, as Islam encourages its believers to ‘enter absolutely into peace’ (Holy Qu’ran:2, 208) because only then will you lead a plentiful life that enjoys compassion, mercy, peace and love throughout the world. Radical Islam, on the other hand, is a completely different interpretation of the Qu’ran and manipulates its true peaceful intentions for the benefit of terrorism, making the religious beliefs of the Westminster killer irrelevant in the conclusions made about his actions.

It is these facts that compel me to express my absolute outrage at the xenophobic nature of comments seen on social media outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, in the days that have passed since this event. Particularly, the vicious attack of a young Muslim woman who has been pictured walking past an injured citizen on Westminster Bridge with the tag line: ‘A picture speaks a thousand words.’ Yes, a picture does speak a thousand words; if you actually bother to examine the face of this young woman more closely she looks genuinely distraught and traumatised at what she has just witnessed. In addition to this, there is plenty of photos and camera footage of white civilians walking past those who were injured in the attack, or consoling each other, or crying and trying to come to terms with what they had just witnessed alone. Yet, there is no attack perpetrated across social media on these people insinuating that their religious or ethnic origins have caused them to have a complete lack of compassion for a terrible event … why is that? This is because a certain percentage of the United Kingdom in the 21st century STILL has this deluded ‘fear of the other’ – a xenophobic tendency, fearing the foreign or strange, which can be traced back as far as ancient Greece 2,500 years ago!

Image courtesy of Metro

Does this xenophobic characteristic explain some of your beliefs or behaviours? Please let it not! In a world where terrorist organisations seek to destabilise modern democratic societies, by creating fear and prejudice, it is imperative that the majority stand strong on beliefs of unity and religious acceptance to prevent further legitimate radicalisation, on the grounds of social inequality, and ensure that the fight back against this fear is on a united front.

Lauren Walker

(Image courtesy of Euro UK)

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