Well, it’s been several weeks (sorry about that), but something’s finally got me angry enough to write. Many thanks, Yahoo – whether it’s the news or just your slapdash approach to copyediting, you always know how to get me riled up. Although in this case it’s the reactions of some of your over-zealous readers. I’ve been warned repeatedly to ignore “the lower half of the internet” when reading articles online, and time and again I fail to heed the warning.
I suppose I should explain what’s pissed me off so much.
“Murdered Preacher Spoke Out Against Terror” screams the headline. It refers to the death of Abdul Hadi Arwani, a Muslim preacher who was found dead in his car in Wembley a few days ago. A post-mortem is underway, but initial reports have stated that he suffered a gunshot wound to the chest. Not a pleasant way to go out, that. I mean, Wembley’s a dump.
Inevitably the press is milking this for all it’s worth, as always happens when a story ticks a few Controversy boxes (in this case those boxes were “Murder”, “Syrian-born Muslim cleric” and “An-Noor Mosque”, which has a number of links to radical beliefs and terrorism). I’m not blaming them for that. In fact, the article that’s drawn a response from me focuses on the deceased as a peaceful man who spoke out against extremism and advocated freedom for all. He hasn’t even preached at An-Noor since 2011.
No, the article didn’t piss me off. The lower half of the internet did. The comments section (which I promise I’ll never read again, and even as I type that I know it to be a lie) contained some real fucking gems this time. Here are just some of my favourites:
“…this Syrian-born preacher who is supposedly so innocent, I’d be willing to bet he was involved in something sinister ; it will come to light eventually, I’m patient.”
“Any Muslim will tell you there [sic] against Terrorism the thing is do you believe them.”
“The mussies have to speak out against everything as they fear there [sic] benefits will be stopped otherwise.”
“Muslims are all the same, they are violent, lying toe rags who need to be sorted out.”
“These Muslims will try and portray that they are a peaceful people but evidence shows that what they say is clearly different to what they do. Trust a Muslim…NEVER”
“It seems to me that he was a troublemaker and somebody decided he needed putting down!
Now he is dead I suppose his Family will be returned to where they came from?”
“Note 6 Children. Brits take note they are out breeding us by an average of 4-1 so prepare for your grandchildren to be converted to Muslims and face Sharia Laws”
I’ll stop now before Dave Gorman comes a’knockin’ for his royalties, though I wasn’t actually intending to turn the above examples into a hilarious (?) spoken word performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTZmDPhJ5NM
But back to those lovely comments. He’s a Muslim preacher so he must be evil; the Muslims are coming over here for our benefits; you can’t trust the Muslims; they’re all the same; they’re violent and at war with the West; our ideals are under threat and our country will be under Islamic law within two generations.
And that’s STILL not what angered me (well, it did, but I’ve been angry at all that before). What angered me was the number of people ready to step forward and say that this man deserved to be killed.
What the fuck do they know? Not one of them started their comment with “I knew him personally, so…”. Plenty of them judged him to be guilty – the kind of “guilty” deserving of the death penalty – just because he was Muslim. What kind of people are you? Can you all just take a step back from this circlejerk and consider what you’re saying?
Because what you’re saying is: a man was shot dead, and I approve of this because he might have said some things I disagree with.
Setting aside the fact that his death might have been nothing to do with his beliefs (I hear that some Muslims now have hobbies outside of reading the Koran and praying, amazing), how the fuck can you be cool with the idea that someone could be shot dead just for saying something? That is not how we do things in the UK these days. We have things like a police force, and rules we’ve all agreed to stick to, y’know? I don’t care if the guy was inciting terrorism, we have the police and our laws because society doesn’t function too well with free-flowing vigilantism. Just because you happen to think that someone deserves to die doesn’t mean it’s okay for someone else to go shoot them.
What if someone decides your views are too extreme to allow you to continue living? (For example, because you think it’s justifiable to shoot suspected extremists. I’d at least give you a hefty slap for that one.) I take it you’re cool with fearing for your life, yeah? Didn’t think so.
I’m not going to pick over all the other problems that rear their ugly heads in those comments. They are, of course, part of the problem. But above all else it does not sit comfortably with me that I share this island with the kind of people who can look at the murder of a stranger in their capital city, and just shrug and say, well, no doubt he deserved to die. You callous, dehumanising bastards.
PS. If any of the comments I’ve cited belong to you, please do come and say hi.