Radicalisation is happening to Muslims all over the UK. Of course, the Internet is to blame. The brutal killing of the soldier Ian Rigby on an ordinary street in East London is clear evidence of this. Within hours of the vial incident taking place, these bold assessments were made and allowed to flourish over the following days. Names of ‘radical’ preachers and banned Islamic groups that we have never heard of, and would not be able to pronounce if it wasn’t for their persistent current use in the media, are being bandied about to the point where we wonder: Exactly who is being radicalised, here?
One of the most sensible questions posed from this Woolwich killing was said by Evan Davies on ‘Today’, the BBC radio flagship news programme. ‘What comes first the radicalisation or the indoctrination?’ You would have to ask a psychiatrist, was the reply. Put another way: Do we read the newspaper we choose to because it reflects our views and opinions or are our opinions and views shaped by the newspapers we read? Sadly, no journalist or government official has tapped into the wise findings of the psychiatric profession and reported their balanced conclusion to the public. Instead, we are all being spoon-fed the concept of Muslims being easily radicalised by the Internet to such an extent that genuinely suggests institutionalised racism by the UK government.
When white-skinned David Copeland began his killing spree in the Bangladeshi, Black and gay communities of London, the government was silent on any notion that Copeland had been radicalised by the Internet. Although Copeland was an active member of the EDL and other white supremacist organisations, there was no attempt to ban these groups. In fact, the only similarity in response to the Copeland killings and the murder of Ian Rigby is the justification by the government of surveillance; with Copeland came the praise for CCTV and with the killing in Woolwich comes the call for greater Internet monitoring. Is there any wonder conspiracy theorists are having a field day?
Caucasian Tim McVeigh killed 168 people when he carried out the Oklahoma bombing. He had links to far-right militia groups. Before the identity of the killer was known, media and government speculation pointed a finger towards Muslim extremists. For many, the shock of discovering the killer was ‘one of their own’ was surpassed only by the act, itself.
When Muslim Roshonara Choudry attempted to murder British MP Stephen Timms by stabbing him twice in the stomach, the government and media were quick to have her as being radicalised by Internet; downloading hate-speech from Al-Qaeda linked terrorist groups.
In seems in the eyes of the western media and governments: If you’re white and kill you are a lone-wolf nutter, but if you are black or Muslim you are easily brainwashed; so pose a potential future threat to peace, even if right now you are a hard-working Muslim family man who is a pillar of the community. This aspect of racism, its not something a victim nor a perpetrator of it can easily beat, and the fear it generates is the real ‘terror on our streets’.
So if not radicalisation, what could be other possible causes that led to Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale committing the horrendous killing of Ian Rigby? One line that emerged in the early reports was the possible use of cocaine by the killers. This line has somewhat been dropped; perhaps drugs do not offer justification for widespread control as much as ‘the opium of the people’ does. But did the two kill simply because they were drugged-up swivel-eyed loons at the time? Certainly, there is indisputable evidence that at least one (Michael Adebowale ) was involved in Cocaine even at the young age of 16.
In fact, the evidence he was, also offers another possible reason: Michael Adebowale – the one with the knives) was witness to a horrendous knife-attack killing of a friend, and was nearly killed, himself, in the same incident. Could the attack on Ian Rigby have been influenced by that event? If it was drugs or the warped mind resulted from a traumatic past event, then we can all sleep more soundly in our bed knowing that not all Muslims have such backgrounds. Maybe the two Michaels just got so angered by the UK government’s ill-justified involvement in the Middle East that they flipped out.
It is human nature to seek answer to why these type of events take place. We do so, to try and understand the differences between them and us. Doing so, helps us rationalise our own actions and calm our fears of each other, so we can form and live in societies.
When the white 10-year olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venerables brutally and sadistically murdered two-year-old Jamie Bulger in a manner that, quite frankly, makes the killing of Ian Rigby seem quite merciful, we sought answers. Initially, we suggested the boys were inspired (not radicalised) by violent video games. After many years, the world has come to see what these boys did as isolated, evil acts; but even at the time of the killing, we knew that not all boys are the same. What is true for white boys is also true for Muslim.
In a civilised, humane society, all lines of enquiry should be explored, but that is not what is happening here. We are not being allowed to see Muslims as individuals. Instead, we are being force-fed the most simplistic answers that support vested interests in foreign and homeland policy, answers that go against our common sense understanding. If that isn’t radicalisation, I don’t know what is.