This weekend two terrorist were shot dead outside of a ‘Draw Mohammed’ event in Garland, Texas. There are already many news outlets reporting on this story, most of which will go into far greater detail than I could here, so I’ll link you to a couple of them before I give my thoughts.
The Telegraph: Shooting at Mohammed cartoon drawing contest in Texas
The Daily Beast: Two Killed at Draw Muhammad Event
Regardless of the way in which this heinous attack which ISIS have apparently claimed responsibility for, is being reported though, what has disturbed me about this situation the most is the apparent outpouring of sympathy for the Muslim community on social media as a result. The Facebook comments section for the first article I read about this terrorist attack was littered with messages of disgust and outrage, not at the terrorists who were attempting to perpetrate a massacre, but directed at the potential victims who were attending the event.
Asking for it?
At times like this I can’t help but feel a pang of dismay at the fact that I simply do not understand many other human beings. here we are in the 21st century and there are a huge number of people who feel that, to paraphrase some commenters on social media, by drawing pictures which are considered insulting by Muslims, these people were “asking for it” or “deliberately provoking an attack”. There were messages claiming that people need to “leave the Muslims alone”, presumably these people missed the part where armed -fucking- terrorists showed up at an art exhibition.
This event was apparently organised by a ‘notorious’ anti-Islamic activist named Pamela Geller, the Daily Beast article in particular seems to really want to push this ‘anti-Islam’ idea on us and, while I can’t say I know a lot about this person, I can’t help but feel that it’s largely irrelevant whether or not she is an anti-Islamic activist. Furthermore, unless this event was actively promoting or inciting hate against a group of people based solely on their religious beliefs then being anti-Islamic isn’t really a terrible thing to be. Islam is an idea, nothing more, being against, even hating a specific set of ideas is fine as long as you do not hate people for having those ideas. Turning up to an art exhibit with the intention of massacring the attendees is not fine and it’s really that simple.
If anything, this event has proved its very point, yes the organisers, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, probably expected that something might happen (as one commenter mockingly asked: “if they didn’t expect violence, why did they hire security?”) and they were proved right. This doesn’t mean that it’s excusable because they were “asking for it” however, what this proves is that the event was necessary. We absolutely should not live in a world where we are dictated to and told what we are allowed to say, do and even draw pictures of by religious zealots based on what ideas they believe in. Our freedom is not up for debate and being against a set of ideas, particularly one as polarising as Islam should be accepted and not branded as “Islamophobic” or bigoted.
It’s mind-boggling to think that there are so many people out there who genuinely seem to think that the people holding this event are to blame. One Facebook comment claimed that they should be prosecuted and somehow completely avoided condemning those who turned up at this exhibition armed with murderous intent. Of course the event was designed to antagonise Muslim extremists, it probably didn’t have the best intentions and I suspect that freedom of speech was only a small part of its inspiration, if at all. None of this really makes a difference though. Did I mention that it was a DRAWING CONTEST? Drawings, pictures, nobody was hurting anyone, nobody was advocating violence….perspective is essential here and seems to be very much lacking in some quarters.
The Independent, one of the United Kingdom’s major newspapers today ran an article about the shooting and, as seems to be the norm in the wake of this attack, the story was criticising the AFDI, rather than the would-be-murderers. They asked: “Who are the organisers of the anti-Muslim Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest where two gunmen were killed?” (I left the spelling mistake in their title on purpose) – with the tagline of: “The organisers of Texas’s anti-Muslim cartoon contest in 10 hateful Facebook posts”!
According to this article, the AFDI have been listed as a hate group and Ms Geller has been banned from the UK because of her views. This from a country which happily allows hate preacher Anjem Choudary – a man who has called for politicians and even the Queen of England herself to be made to answer for their ‘crimes’ when Sharia becomes UK law – free reign and press interviews regularly.
And what are these terrible and inflammatory posts which the Independent deems as hateful? Well, as you can see from the article, they appear to be simply a list of news stories involving Muslim adherents and terror attacks. Depressingly the Facebook comments for this story are a damning indictment on the current situation, Dozens of posts condemning the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which in fairness, does seem like the US equivalent of the BNP, and complaints about ‘offending Islam’ and very few people remembering that the real issue here is an attack on free speech and armed terrorists being sent to an art gallery.
The fear of terrorist attacks appears to have made people turn on those who dare to defy the new ‘laws’ being inflicted upon our freedoms, this is surely a good insight into how radicalisation is acheived, from fear or terror, to anger at those ‘provoking’ the terror, to sympathy for those being ‘provoked’ and so forth.
If you are offended by an event which disagrees with or even ridicules your belief in an idea then of course you are within your rights to feel offended, even aggrieved. Responding to such an event in kind, by perhaps holding an event in protest or drawing ‘revenge pictures’ would be appropriate responses, murder is not and it is that simple. Nobody should be excusing these attacks, nor should they be calling for the heads of the event organisers because of this. In a decent and level headed society, surely we can all see that mocking a set of beliefs does not justify acting like angry, pathetic infants who cannot handle criticism.