Bloodshed on all sides
In order to have a hope of achieving peace, at least discuss
what the deeper-rooted motives of the bombers might be
July 14, 2005
It’s been a week now since the London bombings -- and the
day I wrote a diary piece "This
is war" for Iranian.com. We have
now learned that the bombers were of the suicide variety and things
back to normal, or nearly normal. A few shoppers in Oxford Street
today (myself amongst them) had a slightly over the top reaction
to a car exhaust backfiring and people seem to be checking each
other out a bit more on the buses and the underground (but not
in a good ‘Sex and the City’ way.)
Today I caught myself casting suspicious glances at bearded a
type in a train carriage and soon noticed a few white people looking
at me in much the same way. At one stop, a young, bearded (perhaps
Muslim -- I’m not saying anything) guy sat opposite
me with a big lumpy looking bag. He was sweating slightly and I
must’ve been a lot less subtle than I thought I was being,
because the poor guy ended up pointing to his bag and saying ‘it’s
my gym kit!’ We had a laugh about it (no, really) and then
he got off at the next stop (thank God!) I imagine he’ll
be explaining about his gym kit for the rest of his natural life,
unless he has a shave.
Learning that the bombers were British born and raised makes
all the whys and hows of it more complicated. A few readers of
sweetly took the time
to write to me after my last piece and a few commented that blaming the bombings
on the invasion/occupation of Iraq is too simplistic. I wholeheartedly agree
with you. I did not mean to suggest that four lads from Yorkshire who, by all
accounts were ‘normal’ members of British society, suddenly move
so far into fundamentalism that they strap explosives to themselves and create
such horror just because they disagreed with the war in Iraq -- but people
have martyred themselves over similar things.
While I do not think the attacks on Afghanistan
and Iraq are solely responsible for breeding fanatics, I believe
we must, in order
to have a hope of achieving
peace, at least discuss what the deeper-rooted motives of the bombers might be.
are countries out there with no democracy. Why? Well, shoot me
flames, but I can’t imagine that the Western democracies funding of Middle-Eastern
tyrants over the last sixty-some years in exchange for all manner of resources
eased the situation. For example, in our own Iran, Mossadegh was elected in 1951.
He nationalised our oil industry and Iran had the beginnings of a democracy.
The British destroyed it and instead installed the Shah, because it was in their
business interest for us to be governed by their man.
Although they often do sterling
work at home, democratically elected (ahem) leaders of Western (and Eastern)
superpowers have armed,
funded, and trained malevolent
forces (Taliban anyone?) with seemingly scant thought to the long-term consequences.
(What do they care? These leaders in question won’t be in power by the
time the chickens come home to roost -- they might even be making a bob
or two writing columns for the corporate media or else they’ve passed
their dynastic leadership onto their offspring -- who knows?)
All I’m saying is that if
you happen to grow up in a country that’s
been kicked around since time immemorial like a football in the Premier league
of world domination, you may feel more than a little disempowered as you
watch family and friends die around you. You may find yourself
in the position of feeling
stronger kinship with Osama Bin Laden than men who have killed tens of thousands
of your civilian population, given you a curfew, a show election and told
you that you are now living in a democracy. Is this not a way to
swell the ranks
of Al-Queda? Is it out of the realm of possibility? I expect the usual polite
answers on postcards.
We’re all agreed that terrorism is abhorrent, right? Now
let's make the quantum leap and agree to include the state-sponsored
terrorism of our governments
in that sentiment. We need to stop fighting fire with fire and end the
bloodshed on all sides. If we democrats don’t have the power
to do it, Mr Subjugated, somewhere in the Middle East doesn’t
have a prayer. Or maybe that’s
all we’ve left him with.
[I got some heavy editing and contribution from
Christian Reilly (a fellow comic) for this piece. Many thanks.]
Shappi Khorsandi is a standup comedian in the UK.