Forget terrorism in Britain: the real risk is racism
With the current crisis in Gaza flooding newspaper headlines it has become clear that Britain has a (significantly less important) crisis of its own: Islamophobia and the underlying racism that has been fuelled by negative, false and frankly ridiculous stereotypes of the Muslim faith. A ‘phobia’ is, by and large, a fear caused by what you don’t understand, and this lack of understanding people have towards Islam has caused more fear of the Muslims in Britain than of the terrorist group ISIS, who are quite clearly the real danger.
This blame-spreading and fear of average, working, educated religious people living in Britain has become almost as stupid as it sounds, and newspapers such as The Daily Mail or The Daily Express are rushing on a daily basis to tell you that it is the Muslims in Britain who pose a danger, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not share the Jihadist views that terrorists do (so, you guessed it, they’re not just wandering around on the streets blowing up houses and forcing innocent Christians to read the Qur’an). Ironically, if you are looking for offensive behaviour in this country, you can find video footage of the Christian, right-wing group Britain First – a pitiful, racist handful of bald middle-aged men who can even make UKIP look good – ‘invading’ mosques in British cities and handing out copies of the Bible.
Disgustingly, it seems, in a world with more and more diversity, many people are nonetheless becoming more and more right-wing and racist. After an English Defence League documentary aired on the BBC last year, it became worryingly clear that many, ill-informed people believe that Muslims are responsible for everything bad in the world. Yes, there are bad Muslims out there, who beat people up and terrorise cities; there are also violent and unpleasant individuals from every other ethnic group and faith in Britain. It's too easy for people to generalise, and ignorantly believe that just because one person of one group committed an unforgivable crime, that everyone else of that group will do the same. It doesn't work like that. People do not have different religions and skin colours so it's easy to know who's a goodie and who's a baddie. It's just biology. Just because someone was born into a religion that isn't the same as yours, does not mean they're going to bomb you. Yes, it feels like I'm stating the obvious, but apparently some people need reminding.
It seemed the whole of Facebook needed reminding, after the horrendous incident in Woolwich, London, in May 2013, when a Muslim man killed a British soldier, that actually, not all Muslims are murderers and not all are out to commit terrorists acts. Scrolling through Facebook during that period, you could be forgiven for thinking that the whole of British youth had confused racism with patriotism whilst telling all the "Muslim scum to go back to their own countries". Er, news flash: many Muslims are born and bred British, and of those who’ve arrived from other countries, many of them simply can't return. Yes, that's right, you might think you're in danger when a car back fires outside the local Tesco, but many immigrants have fled their homes because of bombs, guns, gangs and rapists actively destroying the lives of their communities.
If what the majority of Facebook told me then was true, then an entire religion can be blamed for one terrorist’s acts. So yes, we can blame all Muslims for one man's act. We can also blame all Christians for Anders Breivik's massacre of 85 Norwegian teenagers back in 2010, as Christianity was his dedicated religion and his given reason for the disturbing terrorist attack. Seems fair doesn't it? Of course, if anyone actually did apply the same standards to Christians as they do to Muslims, we'd be forced to shun around 1/3 of the world. Now that seems silly, doesn't it?
Worryingly, we are told time and time again of the spine-shuddering statistics of immigrants digging into Britain via underground tunnels with metal spoons or whatever ridiculous myth the Daily Mail has written of. Yes, there are millions of immigrants moving into Britain each year - the Daily Mail didn't fabricate this time - don't let your jaw drop to the ground too hard. But they did forget to mention the millions of people leaving Britain each year. I can't imagine why they would leave such a thing out when brainwashing the minds of average British citizens. The main thing that people neglect to realise, is that people do need to escape sometimes...in fact, a lot of the time. Spain is currently home to hundreds of thousands of British people – and academic research suggests the vast majority of them have not bothered to learn the language. If we stop taking other immigrants in, do we have to take back all the semi-retired, sun-wizened, wine-swilling Brits from the Costa del Sol? Just what use would they be to our economy?
It's easy for a cosy British family to blame the entirety of an ethnic minority because someone got made redundant, but that doesn't make it alright to do so. Next time you struggle to get a GP's appointment, try to remember that it might be a gaggle of British hypochondriacs who held you up, not immigrants visiting just for the cheap prescription charges.
We fought for equality in this country, and we earned it. Some people never won that fight, and some people cannot live safely in their countries. Why should it matter if people practise their religion in England? Christianity didn't originate in Britain, and you don't see protests about the precious Christian faith. Not only this, but immigration is not illegal. A legal immigrant deserves the same treatment as everyone of the so called 'British' of this country, whose ancestors would have been immigrants too. Perhaps it's time people accepted the wonders of multi-ethnic Britain, and what it means to be diverse, and put the pitch-forks away.
By Elly Ambridge, year 13