A year or so ago, after Fusilier Lee Rigby was butchered on a London street, the English Defence League (or bunch of fascist bastards as they are more commonly known) marched on a mosque in York. The muslims met them with tea and biscuits, and they began to chat, and then they had a game of football, and the riot police went home.
I thought of that last night after the news of the killings at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. I thought of all the millions of muslims who are, in effect, our brothers and sisters in this world, who are bracing themselves to pay the price for the atrocities that extremists commit in their name.
Ordinary muslims all over the world are suffering terribly at the hands of extremists at the moment; 200,000 are thought to have died in the civil war in Syria. Thousands more have had to leave their homes. Isis is marching across the Middle East. Young men and women in the west, seduced by the sham ideology of ‘freedom fighting’, are leaving their homes to join the chaos. Some are ending up as suicide bombers, and western governments fear some will come home as terrorists. Maybe that is where yesterday’s killers came from.
We, as the general public, can do nothing, really, to stop these random acts of murder. But we can do everything to show our solidarity as human beings. At the end of some Christian church services, the people in the congregation shake hands with each other. Let’s start going out of our way to shake hands, in reality and metaphorically, with people who don’t share our faith. Let us show that we can stand together. Bugger extremists with guns, let’s show the power of people with pens.
Cup of tea, anyone?
Top picture by Ann Czernik, at http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/may/27/york-mosque-protest-tea-biscuits .
Second picture via creative commons, courtesy of http://dpdpksmedan.org/category/download/page/9/