This article was initially written for The Odyssey Online and can be found here.
Nations around the world live in an unsettling time of extremism making itself known in horrific acts of destruction that steals innocent lives, but groups like the EDL (English Defence League) and other far-right groups in Britain, my home country, continue to use these acts to engage in xenophobic, Islamophobic abuse. Anger is justified, but it cannot be taken out on the innocent, and we must protect our fellow Muslim communities from this.
While it does not detract from the monstrous events that have taken place in my nation, we must bear in mind that extremists are not just attacking Britain and its values: terrorism is an attempt to incite fear and create a divide in all places it touches. A car bomb in Kabul last month killed over 150 civilians as they observed Ramadan, a time of peace and prayer. A bombing in Manchester took 22 innocent lives away, many of which children, at a concert, meant for leisure and escapism. Extremists like Daesh know to target innocents because the overwhelming response of fear and anger drive people apart.
Dividing people works for organisations like Daesh: it knows that the resulting alienation of Muslims in Western countries can convince young people to join its cause, according to director of Giraffe Heroes International, John Graham, because it suggests a haven from the injustices inflicted upon them. This does not justify anyone’s attempt to commit violence against others, but extremist groups will use any form of manipulation to expand their cause.
But what this terrorism also does not justify is the continued abuse served to Muslim communities in the West, something I fear is growing in Britain. Far-right activists like Tommy Robinson manage to draw right-wing nationalist followers that claim Muslims are destroying Britain, and are growing in support on social media. We had a white terrorist succeed in murdering a group of Muslims leaving their prayer.
We do not resolve terrorism with more terrorism.
We should not equate the actions of extremists to our Muslim communities because we did not do the same for white people when British white supremacist, Thomas Mair, murdered Labour MP, Jo Cox. It makes no sense to vilify the innocent for the acts of the guilty.
We have no basis for coalescing Islamist extremists with everyday Muslims either, especially when Daesh wishes to commit these injustices during Ramadan, a time of holiness for Muslims, and constantly inflict them with harm.
We must respond like Manchester did after its dreadful attack: reject the nationalists that aim to use extremist violence as a tool to motivate xenophobia through fear, and we must unite with our fellow Muslim Britons because they bear no responsibility for the act of terrorists.
It needs to be remembered that terrorism from organisations like Daesh is an attack on all of us as Britons, not just a select few of a certain faith, race and identity. America has long faced an increasing attack on Muslims, Human Rights Watch reported, and my country desperately needs to avoid this path.
We must not give into the desire of extremists like Daesh that want to dissolve our peace, but we cannot resort to the dividing tactics far-right groups are using that will further instigate this. The peace we desire and the nation we wish to be proud of will never arise from hatred.