London Attack: The Emerging Art of Blaming Islam and the Liberals

I am writing this post, as news organisations are learning more about what happened in London just hours ago. Reportedly, there was at least 3 shots fired at the Westminster bridge, as a car mowed through pedestrians killing at least one women on its way. Moments later, the car rammed through the fence of the parliament building. A police officer was said to be stabbed, before the alleged perpetrator was finally shot to dead by authorities. Of course the Information is still very limited, and we’ll get clearer details about the attack and what exactly happened. For now, we can only hope that the injured can be recovered and that there will be no further attacks.

There are, as far as the news knows, no information on the attacker. His/her motives, background or even physical traits, are still unknown as authorities are focusing more on the casualties, evacuations and are still gathering reports from eyewitnesses.

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Photo Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville

As concerning as this news is, one of the most alarming thing that I saw, has instead came from Twitter.

If you scroll to the top trending page, you will come across some conservatives users (mostly Trump supporters) that used this horrible incident as a justification to condemn Islam and argue against accepting refugees. Again I must reiterate that we have no information (yet) that the attacker is Muslim. Even if he/she is Muslim, I don’t think we can use this attack as a reason to antagonizes Muslim anyway.

These people has also somehow managed to blame this attack on Sadiq Khan, merely because He is Muslim, and (even more astonishingly) claimed that the mayor is behind this attack (or at least attracts it).

They have also blamed the “leftist” or “liberals” for allowing this to happened. They argue that their fight for freedom and to distinguish Islam from the act of terrorism as a doorway to this sorts of attack.

To be honest with you, these tweets concerns more than the attack itself. You see, a united community is easier to be protected, as long as they trust each other. But evidently, we no longer are. Fear driven xenophobia has (as far as our history can tell) only lead us into conflicts.

What I saw from those tweets are hatred created by fear, perpetrated by anger, and translated into blinded judgement that generalize millions of unique individuals into a group of radical terrorists.

I have no idea, whether this sorts of fear has been there for quite a long time without me knowing it, or whether this is the product of “Us against them” mentality created by groups of populist leaders across the world.  One thing that I know for sure is that these people has become more and more visible.

Exactly a year before this attack, three suicide bombing happened in Brussels, and some months before, deadly attacks also killed hundreds in Paris. That was only around 14 months ago, and if my memory serves me well, the reaction was not as polarized and hate filled as it is now.

All I want to say is that we cannot easily label this attack as the responsibility of certain religion, nor do it should justify our hatred towards that religion and certain political decisions.

These sorts of attack are done by radicalized individuals, not because of a religious teaching. Sure, we can say that religious teaching can be misunderstood, but in that case, it is wrong to just look at Islam, because evidently Christian religion can also be used by KKK or other white supremacist to do different forms of violent attacks.

At the end, we can’t let this sorts of attack scares us and pressures us into believing misguided assumptions that will only polarize the society.

We cannot bow into pressure, and let this fear driven hatred govern our humane nature. Allowing us to make unreasonable justification to discriminate others, especially if that fear was mainly driven by individuals who created this trends, just to score some political points.

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But I’m Not The Only One


“The true role of religion is to remind us the fact that we are parts of humanity and the universe.”

It was not quite a normal morning that I woke up to. Two explosions and shootings was reported just some distance away from where I live. Naturally family calls was the thing that woke me up. Followed by a call by the office, asking me to come earlier.

Yes, the moment I stepped into the newsroom, the panic were apparent. But it was not the sort of panic that’ll make you run away. It was just all eagerness, from hundreds of dedicated newsman, trying to provide as much information that they can find.

Not stopping for even just a second, to rethink about what they’re getting themselves into. All we know is that we need to provide the scared people on the streets some certainty. Some silver linings.

I once heard that people tend to run away from danger. And of course, people will. It’s only natural and instinctual to do that. That being said, here in Indonesia, it was not quite that natural.

We run towards the explosion.

Same thing happened when our correspondent heard a (supposedly) what sounded like an explosion. He, without any hesitation, run towards the source. Funnily enough, it was just a tyre burst.

One thing is for sure, every single of us are trying our best to give the most reliable information, not only to keep people safe by being aware, but also to make people calm.

What amazed me even more, is that every person that I know are desperate to do something (even if they don’t actually have to). Even just by asking whether they should share anything on their social media or not.

And no, I am not going to condemn anybody from doing that, because it is only natural to do so. We need something to channel our need of catharsis after all. And what I want to underline is people’s intention of sharing anything. They genuinely were worried, and even during their worries, they still think about what they’re sharing before actually sharing it. Well, at least, the people that I know. Even more interesting is that after some times, the discussion has shifted from what we should know, into what we should share, into what hashtags to use. People were supposedly worried about the economy or something.

If there are  anything that we can be sure about today, is that we can never be sure. But we can also see that our people are strong. That our government are strong. And instead of pointing fingers, instead of blaming one or another, we stayed calm and leave it all to the authority. Something a bit rare nowadays, when a terror is received as a cue for people to buy guns and bring them to their nearest 7/11. “Because we can never be too safe”.

Well here today, there was no hatred as far as I can see.

People just want to know that their fellow countryman are safe.

Peace then, may seem like a very unachievable word now, and it might as well be. As for there are no peace without chaos.

But one thing is certain, we cannot be scared by anything. A-N-Y-T-H-I-NG.

Because if there are any winner from what happened today, well I think we won that war.

By not caring, by marching on, by ignoring any unreliable claims, by asking questions instead of throwing curses. By giving prayers instead of pursuing vengeance.

I witnessed the incident from the beginning till the end today, and I can tell you not even one people panic. Some people are so calmed, they even bought Satays just some stone throws away from the crime scene.

I honestly don’t know why I write this thing. It is by far my worst writing as far as I can tell. But all I want you to take away from this, is that we have handled this well. And that they will not get whatever it is that they are looking for. Because judging from how we, as a society, acted today, we are formidable.

Here, I just want to applaud every single of you for showing just that today.

For reminding me that we can respond to things instead of just reacting to it. And that us human is not that fragile after all.

As for today, we have shown that we can become light. As for today, we have shown that no matter how dark canthey be, we will never step into their side.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”  – MLK Jr.

 

 

Double Standards

It’s been a week, believe it or not, since the Paris attack. 129 died then, and thankfully the number holds as the city is recovering from the terror and possible PTSDs. I originally wrote something about the attack on the day that it happened. But I cannot, for the life of me, write anything that I thought matter for me to share with you all. It just stroked me how much life has gone in vain that day.

It is such a big journalistic moment for any kind of news organisation, that I sort of distract myself from making any judgement and tried to just concentrate on the news as the story develops.

I won’t dwell much about the event itself because there is nothing to say there really. It was a horrible thing; I can’t even start to imagine the sorts of thoughts that went into the attackers’ mind. It was just unthinkable for anyone to ever proclaimed themselves as human to ever even think about doing that.

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Instead, I want to dwell more about how we react to the event itself. As I always have.

The first thing I did apart from tunning on to the news at that time was to check my Facebook page and see how much of a damage the event has done towards my timeline.

I didn’t mean that in a bad way, but nowadays, the way the society around you reacts to this sort of tragedy, for me, defines the very nature of your own self-identity. And sure enough, the attention has shifted from the death of human beings into the use of France’s flag on one’s profile picture.

I myself change mine. I couldn’t care less honestly. It’s just a way to show that I care. It’s like putting on a poppy. It does nothing really. It is just a show of respect. Do it, not do it, it’s entirely anyone’s decision.

But of course, we have to make a big deal out of it and compared this event with such death in Syria and other crisis. Saying that we take one more seriously than the other.

But I moved on from that thought relatively quickly, because first, it is honestly just a rubbish thought. But more importantly, I was intrigued by the way our society sort of sees itself as putting emphasize on one’s death more than the other.

Because like it or not, if this attacks had happened somewhere else, which actually happened in Beirut the day before, people won’t care as much.

As that debate went off on one side of the Internet, I started to wonder whether news organisation has put us as a society in some kind of polarised judgement, with double standards. Making us care more about one thing rather than the other.

As someone who meddles with international news every day as a job, and is responsible for choosing international news for a news program, I find myself in a really curious state.

I myself have always put forward these sorts of reporting. Be it in an Afghan city, African city, or anywhere in the world, if there are bomb attacks and dozens of people died, I will always try to squeeze them in into my rundown.

Sadly at the same time, I will find myself being reminded by my superior that I should choose sexier news. That after a prime time discussion people just wants to end the program with happy thoughts. That the news of the death is just going to send the viewers away. That news about the TPP deal has nothing to do with our audiences no matter how important it is because it bores them.

This really brought me into a dilemma, when my ideology meets the reality of my job.

Have we, as a society, been so vanilla, that we can only care about something that we know? Even if the death of a person at one place is still going to be called the death of a person at the other place?

Are we as a society responsible for the ongoing conflict in Syria or Israel because we frankly didn’t care enough? Because we pay more attention to something else? Because we are too sick and tired of dead people on the news?

Well evidently not really, because when Paris happened, we care a lot. And don’t be all angely and start saying to me that you also care about the Japanese earthquake or the Beirut bombing. Because frankly, if Paris wasn’t attacked, you wouldn’t even open the news section of the news. You’ll just jump right in into the sports section, or the entertainment section. Or even worse, you just sort of rely on that friend of yours that loves reading, and wait for him to share his favourite article of the day to appear on your timeline.

I asked my sister just before I write this piece earlier, whether she knows about what happened in Mali.

And she it’s not like she is the average person that lives an average live with an average education. She has a master degree from the best university in Australia. She didn’t even know where Mali is.

Yet when I asked her about what happened to Charlie Sheen. She immediately said AIDS. Well, technically it’s HIV, but at least she knows.

This is exactly the point that I am making. That us as a society pretend like we care about every single thing that happened to humanity. Yet, we need the death of Aylan Kurdi to care enough about the refugee crisis and we need the death of 129 people to realise the imminent threat of ISIS.

Yet, here I am, reporting the death of dozens of people every single day in the middle east, and in the Mediterranean sea (which happened because of the same reason by the way) and nobody bats an eye.

I’m sorry, but I have to give you a problem without a solution here. But I cannot for the love of me see what makes this the way it is. I refuse to blame either the news agency or the society. It just doesn’t work somehow along the way.

I could only begin to imagine what would happen to the Israel, or Syrian conflict if we care about it as much as we care about Paris. But, I guess that’s still way ahead of us.

 

Our job is only to hold up the mirror – to tell and show the public what has happened.Walter Cronkite