I could post today about the horrors in Barcelona. But what would I say? I would say that the world can be a horrible place. I would say that terrorists are evil people with a strange comprehension of what is right and wrong. I would say that I can’t imagine how the families of those innocent people caught up in a religious and political war must feel, and how they will ever put themselves back together. I would say that it’s scary how places many of us may have visited, or wanted to visit, are being targeted by these inhuman scum; that it could have been any of us caught up in another senseless tragedy.
But most of us already know those things. And saying them again doesn’t change it. We can only keep good people in our hearts and hope for better days ahead.
In the meantime, have a chortle at my favourite panda video. Because I truly believe that it’s impossible to be truly sad whilst watching pandas being…well…pandas!
Crikey. What a rotten time London has been having lately. Between the terror attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire, there seems to have been very little focus on what’s going to happen with the government. Obviously the focus needs to be on those who have suffered and continue to suffer from a tragic couple of weeks, but the fact remains that the Conservatives didn’t get a majority in the General Election, yet Theresa May and co seem to be proceeding in a business as usual fashion. The Queens Speech is going ahead today, and the Brexit negotiations have started led by a Tory representative. I know things can’t remain indefinitely on hold, but is this constitutional? Is she using the fact that people are rightly distracted by tragic human events to get in through the back door?
I see a bigger threat to our country at present than terror attacks. The real threat, for me, comes from the government. Arms deals into the Middle East and wars under the pretence of “protecting” vulnerable citizens. We’re shocked and horrified by people in the UK being killed by terrorists, yet seemingly untouched by civilians losing their lives in the Middle East – where numbers killed by terrorists and Western bombs are much higher than those we’ve seen in the UK. Where are their pop concerts? In fact, where is their media coverage? Can we be surprised that our country is under attack from extremists, when we’re party to attacks on them?
And the Grenfell Tower fire – another seemingly government caused tragedy. Everything seems to be pointing towards the illegal use of flammable cladding on the outside of the building – where would that decision have come from? Why weren’t there sprinklers in the building? Residents don’t make these types of decisions. Councils do. Councils who form part of local government, which in turn forms part of the overall government.
Such decisions lead to tragedies which put additional pressure on our already stretched emergency services. Why are they stretched? Because the government have cut their numbers and refuse well deserved pay rises so that, for some people, the role becomes untenable. When you read stories of nurses working 12 hour shifts but having to use food banks to feed their families, you know something is horribly wrong.
How about the media? Their biased reporting of Theresa May compared to Jeremy Corbyn in the run up to the election. Their biased reporting of the “Muslim terrorists” who “attacked” people as they enjoyed their Saturday night, compared to the “White Van Driver” who “collided” with Muslims as they celebrated their religion. Luckily many people see this bias for what it is, and are able to read between the lines and draw their own conclusions. But what about those who can’t? Those who trust the media and therefore respond accordingly; by blindly voting for Theresa May, or shouting abuse at peace loving Muslims in the street.
Having taken such a battering as a country in the past few weeks – because it does affect the whole country, not just London and Manchester – people seem to be opening their eyes to what’s going on; wanting answers and wanting change. We deserve those answers and that change. Something isn’t working. The system is broken. And we can’t just carry on as we always have done, because the gaps in society are just getting bigger. The gap between rich and poor. The gap between Muslims and non Muslims. The gap between Remainers and Brexiters. A divided society will eventually implode, and there’s nothing British about that.
Grey, miserable with the occasional sunny spell. That’s how I feel, mentally, following the terrorist attack in London on Saturday night.
Mindless killing in the name of “Allah” – I don’t think so! Real Muslims are currently fasting for Ramadan, honouring their God and the Koran.
Terrorists are not real Muslims.
And real Muslims are not terrorists.
Scary times. I know that’s what they (the terrorists) want, and I know we (the general public) aren’t supposed to give in – that we should be strong and stoic and refuse to change our behaviour, but I’ll admit, I’m scared. I’m going to London for the Guns n Roses gig next Friday and I’m nervous.
But enough about me. The current time should be for sending thoughts and love to any of the victims, their families and their friends. And to the amazing emergency services who selflessly put themselves on the front line, not knowing who or what they’re dealing with.
Following the horror of last week’s terror attack in Manchester and the humbling response by people in the City pulling together, I’ve been so uplifted by seeing Manchester and beyond showing strength and solidarity.
This story embodies it for me.
It’s a fairly long watch, but worth it. My eyes were squishy by the end and I felt proud of my fellow humans – whatever age, colour, or faith – showing this brave young man that we’re all in this together.
I had planned this post as a standalone to my other Malaysia trip posts as soon as I left the Kapitan Keling mosque in Penang and, in view of the bombing in Manchester, which has now been claimed by Muslim terrorists, today seems the right time to write it.
I love religious architecture; the grand scale, the intricate detail, the commitment to beauty. As I mentioned in my previous Malaysia post, the temples were one of the things I couldn’t wait to visit on our trip. I’m fascinated with churches, despite being a firm atheist, and will always seek out grand religious buildings whenever we’re on a trip.
Yet I’ve never been in a mosque.
On one of our visits to George Town, capital of Penang Island, we walked past the Kapitan Keling mosque – a stark, white building in the middle of the city, with it’s strong arches, rounded domes, and towering minaret.
We took some pictures from the outside and were spotted by a volunteer in the foyer, who invited me in. I was given a scarf to cover my head (I was already dressed conservatively, with my legs and shoulders covered because of the possibility of visiting religious sites, but people who were dressed in strappy tops and shorts were cordially invited in and given clothes to cover themselves) and the young female volunteer began to tell me about the history of the mosque, and more about the Muslim faith.
I was struck by the simplicity of the inside of the mosque. In contrast to churches, and the Buddhist and Thai temples we had visited earlier in our trip, there were no physical depictions of Allah, no decorations or ostentatious shrines.
My guide explained to me that Allah’s physical appearance was never described anywhere in the Koran and so there are no imaginations of what he looks like anywhere – not just in a mosque but in every day life. Also, it is against the religion of Islam for any person or animal be represented in a mosque, part of which is that it can lead to idolatry, and also that there is no distraction during the praying process. Praying is a direct connection between the individual and Allah.
She explained to me about the pre-prayer washing process, which has to be done in a particular order, and that prayer water is inhaled into the nose and mouth for healing and purity reasons. She explained to me about the call to prayer, and prayer times – I incorrectly thought a prayer time had to be adhered to exactly, but she told me that as long as prayer is taken between the first call to prayer time and before the next call to prayer then that’s acceptable. She pointed out the segregated women’s prayer area, showed me the Koran, and read the Islamic prayer which is said to Allah 5 times each day.
It was incredibly enlightening, calming and interesting.
When I left the mosque she gave me some leaflets to take away and, because I’d been gone for a while, the husband joked that I’d been radicalised which is just the kind of sense of humour we have but not quite so funny in view of recent events.
When we got back to the hotel I sat and read the leaflets (more inappropriate radicalisation jokes!) which are designed to dispel some of the myths, rumours and negative press that Islam gets across the world.
Two quotes stand out to me:
“Have you ever wondered why a nun can be covered from head to toe and she’s respected for devoting herself to God, but when a Muslim woman covers, she’s viewed as “oppressed”? Or why a Jew can grow a beard and he’s just practising his faith, and when a Muslim does that, he’s an “extremist”?”
“Would you send your car to a butcher for repair, or a sick child to a florist? Of course not. A butcher is not qualified to repair a car, nor a florist qualified to treat the sick. Likewise, people without Islamic knowledge are not qualified to inform others about Islam. So why is it that people are willing to accept information about Islam from those that do not have the required knowledge?”
I’m not here to preach or change people’s minds, or even to share the content of the leaflets, but the way they approach common misconceptions was definitely an interesting read, and something I believe a lot of people could benefit from reading (EDL and Britain First members, I’m looking at you).
Whenever there’s a terror attack, the level of vitriol towards the Muslim community rises, and it’s so often misplaced – aimed at innocent people who simply believe in a religion and a God who is there for them; in the same way as a Christian or Catholic may believe in religion and God. We don’t turn against Christians when a Christian fundamentalist commits a murderous crime. We don’t see the religions of criminals reported in the news – unless they’re Muslim.
Crimes committed by Muslims in the name of Islam are anything but what they profess to be. They are extremist individuals who have a twisted view of “their” religion and the world at large, and try to justify a thirst for blood and an anger against a perceived threat in the name of a God who would deplore such actions.
Apologies if there are any inaccuracies in my writings about the mosque, but that’s the information as I recall it.
Like everyone waking up in the UK today, and many people across the world, I’m deeply shocked and saddened by the bomb blast which has killed 22 people so far. Those poor, poor babies, out having fun and enjoying what should have been an amazing night in their young lives. Parents, taking their kids to concerts to keep them safe. Fans, all at the venue for the same purpose – to enjoy the music and performance of someone they admire.
It’s too early to jump to conclusions and as yet (as far as I know) no terrorist group has come forward to claim responsibility, so maybe it is just one lone nutter with a grudge to bear. In a way that would be easier to stomach than thinking terrorism has infiltrated the heart of our society and killed innocent people.
Although, if you’ve lost a loved one in such horrible circumstances, the origin of the attack and attacked is probably neither hear nor there.
I’ve been buoyed by acts of kindness I’ve read about in the wake of the attack; like taxi drivers turning off their meters and driving people wherever they needed to go, hotels offering free rooms to people stranded, kids who have been separated from family or friends being taken to safety and the general Manchester population opening up their doors and their homes to provide cups of tea, beds and a safe haven for those affected.
These acts of kindness shouldn’t be necessary, because in an ideal world this would never have happened. But it’s good to know that the majority of the human race not only deplores such behaviour from cowardly bombers, but openly and actively pull together to make the aftermath as easy as possible for everyone to deal with.
In light of what happened in London yesterday, the above is something that we all need to remember. I was dreading reading the inevitable comments from racist bigots, Britain’s First supporters, UKIP voters and some Brexiters saying this would never have happened if we were stricter with our borders.
Luckily I’ve seen very little of this ilk. And, based on today’s news that the attacker was British born, it would be nonsense anyway (not that haters are ever stopped by facts).
I don’t think anyone can be surprised at the attack. Surprised at the location and method, yes. But surely we’ve all been expecting something, if we’re truthful. My only surprise is that it has taken so long after the Paris and Brussels attacks. And that’s testament to our police and intelligence service, and their commitment to keeping the general public safe.
It seems very much that this attacker was a lone wolf. It wasn’t a carefully orchestrated attack. A guy driving a car at people and then stabbing with knives isn’t on the same scale as the armed terrorists who killed so many revellers in the Bataclan, or the timed multiple bomb attacks in Belgium. That’s not to say it’s any less serious – of course it isn’t – but it does seem to suggest that there’s nothing that could have been done to stop it, which again leads back to the great job being done to foil bigger, more complex terror plots.
It’s heartening to see and hear people pulling together, reiterating that terrorists won’t win, and standing proud in protection of our nation and the values we hold dear. And while we must pay our respects to those who’ve been injured or tragically killed, we also need to be mindful of other people who weren’t involved but will be affected – Muslim students turned against by fellow pupils, Muslim parents and their children being racially abused in the streets, Muslim shopkeepers in fear of their livelihoods being retaliated against. These people are innocent victims too; tarred with the same brush purely because of their religious beliefs or colour of their skin.
In the wake of any mindless tragedy, strength comes from deep within, from the power of community and humanity. Don’t let terrorists take that strength away from us by inciting divisions.
RIP to PC Keith Palmer and the other innocent victims.
Lovely people, I specifically asked for a carrier pigeon to be sent to Greece if the world went tits whilst I was away.
It never arrived.
What an awful week of political stupidity (BoJo as Foreign Secretary?? Really??) which paled into insignificance when followed by the atrocities in France and Turkey. The Nice attacks were especially close to home, as we spent a long weekend there last May soaking up the beauty of the city, the cuisine, and the people. We walked along the very Promenade des Anglais that was home to so many pointless deaths and have been talking about returning ever since. To attack innocent civilians enjoying themselves and celebrating the freedom and success of their country is the ultimate in distaste and cowardice, and almost incomprehensible. To lose your life in the pursuit of happiness is so unseemly, so unjust, and so many other “uns” I lack the articulation to, well, articulate.
Anyway. I’m back from Greece. Beautiful beautiful Greece, with it’s own economic and political problems, yet a feeling of safety and solitude. A stunning landscape, friendly welcoming people and a wonderful climate means, for me, it’s impossible not to have a total escape-from-it-all break of amazing proportions. A new corner explored and duly loved; with promises to ourselves to return and soak up more of the inimitable atmosphere.
Maybe you’ve seen some of my instagram pics, but there’ll be a blog post, obvs. I can’t express my love for the county enough; especially at a time when more and more of the world is becoming dangerous. Greece, you may be skint in the eyes of the EU, but I’m happy to continue to pump my wages into you by way of food and drink consumption!
I’m too sad to post as planned today. I’m shocked, saddened, horrified, appalled, disgusted and scared. Yes, scared. I know we shouldn’t say that, I know we’re supposed to be strong and say that we wont be beaten. That our lives won’t change. That we’ll live our lives as normal, and not in fear.
But you know what? I am scared. Scared for the world. Where are we going? What is our future? If we fight terrorism with bombs, retaliation will happen. If we don’t, terrorism will advance.
I’m scared because I think Britain will be next. We’ve been instrumental in fighting terror with attack. So we’re an obvious target.
I’m scared because I go to gigs; I spend weekends in venues that could easily be targeted to attack large numbers of people. That’s what makes it close to home to me. It could have been me. It could have been the husband. It could have been any of my friends. We love life. We dedicate time to gigs and the pursuit of enjoyment. And we don’t expect these pursuits of happiness to limit or end our lives.
I’m scared because I live near a city. The second city. A target.
I’m scared because the Frankfurt Christmas market has just opened in Birmingham and welcomes 5 million visitors over the festive season. And I love it. I visit it.
So yes, maybe terrorists are winning.
This frame of mind won’t last. Even the Facebook profile update, which puts a French flag wash over your image, gives you the option to make it temporary. So how long until we all go back to normal life? 1 day? 3 days? A week?
Until then? I don’t know. All I do know is that it’s shit. So very very awfully soul destroyingly shit.