The events in Tunisia, Kuwait and France were no way to mark the holy month of Ramadan. The true spirit of Ramadan can be found in a less well publicised story of young Muslims from Battersea who are feeding the homeless with charity Ramadan meals.
We have to break the coupling between the words “Islam” and “violence”. Each time the phrase “Islamic State” or “Islamic terrorists”, or any similar variant is used, consciously or subconsciously it leads to a mistaken association between acts of violence and the Islamic faith.
It is time to change the words we use and break this association. Quite simply those who perpetrate these terrible acts of violence are hate-full terrorists who seek to establish a Hate State. What ever they may claim, they are simply people full of hate and they should not be dignified with an association with any religion.
This present expression of Hate State is just one in a long line throughout history of different political and religious movements who have sought to define themselves by uniting people in a common hatred of the “other”. In seeking to defend what is seen as the “right”, the “other” becomes reduced to an impersonal “it” that can be killed and brutalised because they are of no worth; the bond of a shared humanity is broken. Religion just becomes a flimsy garment worn to hide a very unreligious and naked hatred. So a man can walk onto a beach, open fire, and believe that this is good…
At times we can all fall prey to reducing the “other” to an impersonal “them”, even occasionally to an “it”, especially when another says or does something that we strongly disagree with or which causes us offence. A sense of anger or injustice can be good and valued human emotions, but the moment it slips into hate, the essential bond of our shared humanity becomes damaged and things risk spinning out of control.
For the sake of all true Muslims we need to consciously uncouple this association between Islam and violence. And in our own response to these, and no doubt future atrocities, we have to avoid responding to hate with more hate. It is in the bonds of friendship currently being forged between tourists and local Tunisians that the purveyors of hate will be finally overcome.