Pray for Paris

For those of you who don’t know, Paris was unfortunate to be attacked by terrorist from the extremist group called ISIS. These attacks occurred in highly populated areas such as the Bataclan (a popular music venue) at about 9pm on 13th November 2015. Currently the death toll has gone up to 127 with 180 people injured – 80 of which are in a critical state however these numbers could sadly rise over the next couple of day as France mourns over this tragedy.

If there is anything that I hate most, its having to write about the loss of many innocent lives. To think people were enjoying their Friday night off from school or work and then the next minute their night is ruined by suicidal bombers and merciless shooters. I find it hard to say anything because yet again people have died as a result of those who don’t believe in principles such as the freedom of speech, equality for women and education for all. This is what drives me mad because I fail to understand why they oppose such values.

This attack simply illustrates the on going war we are fighting. The war of terror. Sadly, not enough people understand that combating terrorism is becoming increasingly more difficult especially as we are seeing an increase in attacks on the West. Some of the most known are 9/11 in the USA, 7/7 in the UK and now 13/11 in France. With the growth of technology, ISIS networks have become even more encrypted and harder to decode. Now they are even recruiting an army of people to go over and join them e.g. the 3 school girls from Bethnal Green. They are raising an army to spread their radical views and impose them regardless of the impact. ISIS are striking and they are striking hard. Terrorist are no longer people hiding in the shadows, they are coming out into the limelight and making sure their voices are heard e.g. through the use of social media they have been able to leak videos of innocent civilians being beheaded. We are in a war of terror!

However, how can we solve this problem? What can we do? I can start by telling you what we shouldn’t do… retaliate with force. In my opinion, the war of terror really began to take shape after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The west (predominantly the UK – Tony Blair & USA – George W Bush) decided to invade “to disarm Iraq of weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein’s support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people”. However, until this day we are still suffering from the after effects of that decision. Terrorism has escalated to a record high and after 12 years, we have seen events such as the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the execution of Muammar Gaddafi, the refuge crisis and some ‘sort of’ apology from Tony Blair for the Iraq war. In some cases we have come a long way, but in others we haven’t made as much progress as expected. Fighting fire with fire only creates a bigger fire so retaliating with force isn’t going to help at all, it will actually make things worse. Why haven’t the leaders of today learnt from our mistakes in the past with WWI (which we just recently remembered), WWII and the Cold War. This isn’t a time where we should be allocating funds towards nuclear weapons such as trident because we don’t need more nuclear weapons in this world. By choosing to make more of these dangerous and destructive weapons, we are simply giving countries such as North Korea and other middle – eastern countries such as Israel, Pakistan and possible Iran a reason to make/ start to making more weapons.

Diplomacy, rationality and discussion is the way forward to conquering such issues. I’m not saying we should sit around playing ‘peace keeper’ every time but I don’t think we should always rely on the answer of implementing force and producing more weapons because that is what got us in this mess in the first place.

We can also learn to stop being so discriminatory towards Muslims/ Islamophobic because that is where we add the fuel to the fire. Muslims are an innocent group of people who worship the religion called Islam which means peace. They are no different than any other person out there and they are not the threat. I am not the threat. It is extremist which are the threat. They are the people who believe that they are doing the right thing ‘in the name of God’ but honestly don’t understand the faith at all since they carry out such atrocities.

The increase of hate crimes for Muslims have also increased with the rise of terrorism and now it becomes increasingly difficult (for women especially) to actively worship their religion e.g. by wearing the burka, hijab or niqab without facing discriminatory assaults. We live in a country where everyone is entitled to the freedom of expression and the freedom to worship any religion, so why am I or other Muslims in the world being denied this. Yes, ISIS are mainly responsible for ‘converting’ people into believing their radical ideas but to some extent the local community here in the UK and other western countries are responsible for causing people to join ISIS. If you keep telling people to go back to their country, if you keep discriminating against Muslims and if you keep verbally or physically assaulting them, they will listen and they will channel that hurt into anger which ISIS likes to manipulate. Then more people join the army fighting against the west and the vicious cycle keeps on going.  This is like bullying,(in some cases) if you keep harming the victim, they will believe what you say and take action into their own hands by committing suicide or loosing confidence in themselves (disclaimer: this example is only for some cases not all).

However, instead of thinking about what ISIS has ‘achieved’, we should mourn with the families of those in  Paris. We should pray for those in Paris and all the innocent people who have lost their lives. We should raise awareness of what has happened by using our social media platforms as a voice for good e.g. use the hashtag #PrayForParis on Instagram and Twitter or changing your Facebook profile picture to the French flag. We need to show people that what is happening is wrong and we don’t condone it! If you disagree with the decision of any government… Speak up! Voice your opinions, tell them if you disagree with the implementation of force, for example. I am not a huge fan of the David Cameron, but I do sympathise with him when he has to make big decisions about these things.

Don’t stay quiet and watch your world be destroyed by terror… open your voices and speak because the biggest threat to ISIS is humanity standing against terrorism!

– Haddy Jeng

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Lest we forget…11/11

On 11/11/18 at the 11th hour, the armistice was signed – declaring the end of the first world war. As a result, we wear poppies to reflect and respect all the soldiers that sacrificed their lives in order to protect their country and loved ones. Every year on this day we have a 2 min silence in order to remember the casualties of war (including the innocent).

Earlier this week I was asked “Whether we should continue remembering?” and it caused me to think deeply about today and its significance to our lives. I remember as a young child that around the beginning of November a lot of people were wearing red flowers. I felt really intrigued by them they looked so simple yet beautiful and I really wanted one for myself. As I grew a little in primary school, I learnt that these flowers were called ‘Poppies’ and that we wore them as sign of respect towards the people who lost their lives during the war. As a grew a little more in secondary school, I also learnt about the brutality of war and what it actually entailed. Consequently in sixth form, I am able to sit at my computer screen today and write this sentimental piece with a decent wealth of knowledge regarding the subject.

Shell Shock. This is a post traumatic stress disorder which terrorised what was left of ‘a life’ that the soldiers had left. It left them paralysed, blind and deaf. To add to the misery, electrocution was one of the only methods of treatment to conquer the disorder. Some survived however other’s couldn’t cope through the pain. Life offof the front line was an on going nightmare which many wanted to escape. The atrocities of war permanently scared a generation and still some people are suffering the after effects.

This is just an example of the brutality of war. The word war makes me cringe because it is an event which glorifies the destruction of humanity. Some young children in this day and age look up to the soldiers fighting to protect their countries and admire them as “heroes”. Heroes that they wish to become some day. However, that day should never come because there shouldn’t be a war to fight in. There shouldn’t be such violence in the world.

Personally, I don’t believe that soldiers are “heroes” but I do believe that they are brave men & women who are fulfilling their moral duty of protecting their loved ones and the country they call home. I am not saying this to insult anyone but I think using the term “heroes” is another way where we are subconsciously glorifying war. Additionally, it is another way in which we truly forget who we are paying our respects to because it generalises the masses. Rather than respecting how each individual person has contributed towards the war effort, we just assume that they are all one mass power of good which makes it easy to just remember their sacrifice and disengage with the true purpose of today. Although this may seem a mouthful and difficult to understand I am basically trying to say that “Remembrance day is an opportunity to learn and engage with what has happened in the past. It is a way for us to acknowledge that war should never be glorified and that we should always stand against it. It is a way for us to teach and preach those who don’t know about what happened and to prevent such events from happening again.”

You don’t need to research about every single casualty of war but simply learning about one/ listening to someone’s story could really open your eyes and change your prospective on life and humanity in general. This is because each individual that died was unique and that’s what made them human. The government find it easy to send away troops because they don’t get to know each soldier, they don’t have an emotional connection with each soldier, they just send away a mass of people and leave them to do their job. That’s all it is to them, a job. If they fail the job, they will grieve for some time but then they will replace them with another mass of prosperous soldiers and then the vicious cycle repeats.

So in response to the question I mentioned earlier “Should we continue remembering?” YES! It is the least we can do.Such a simple act means a lot to many grieving families and spreads the message that war is a brutal event.

Overall, I would like to end this blog by once again paying my respects to all those who died whether it be the soldiers or the innocent women or children who were killed. If it hadn’t been for their bravery, I wouldn’t be able to write this post today.