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Why the Terrorists Will Never Win

Why the Terrorists Will Never Win

 BY Yvonne Ridley

Muslim communities in towns and cities through Britain have come together in solidarity with people of different faiths and no faiths to express their sorrow over the recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London.

Glasgow was one of the vigils I attended and was invited to address the crowds who braved wind and rain followed by brilliant sunshine all within the space of an hour.

I thought I would share my speech with you and here it is:

Our book, the Holy Quran, has been around for nearly 1400 years. It promotes love and peace and tolerance and is revered by a quarter of the world's population, that's about 1.8 billion Muslims. The sort of terrorism which visited Manchester and London in recent weeks only manifested itself in the last two decades and has no connection with our holy book or Islam. Islam is not the problem.

However extremists on all sides will try and say these atrocities are done in the name of God. These people are on the fringes of our societies. They don't hate our freedoms and liberties, they simply hate.

But what has come out of London and Manchester is an enduring love which will conquer all. It is the determination of fellow human beings to stay human and not allow themselves to be sucked in to the vortex of hate and fear.

The examples and leadership for this haven't come from politicians or governments but instead they've come from ordinary people and their children and it is their example we should follow. Every candle that has been lit, every flower placed on one of the sites in Westminster, London Bridge and Manchester is a strong and potent symbol of that love and it will overpower hate at every turn.

That is why the words of one man resonates here today. They were spoken for one of the Manchester victims 14-year-old Scottish girl Eilidh MacLeod whose funeral took place on her island home of Barra. Her great-uncle, Donald Manford, gave a tribute at the service saying: “In contrast to the hate that took her life, Eilidh’s life was and now stands as a testament forever of the world of love, innocence, goodness, kindness and faith. We will look after each other, we will chase our dreams, we will love one another.”

It is true that many people are in daily fear now of becoming a victim of a terrorist attack and that is why we must come together at events like this to reassure each other. We can never diminish the horror of what has happened, whether it is London, Manchester, Glasgow or further afield. The blood of innocents in Kabul, Mosul, Aleppo, Gaza, Kashmir and Lahore weighs just as heavily on the scales - the pain of a grieving mother in Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Pakistan or Afghanistan is no less painful.

But we must not allow these acts to change our lives. Some politicians will try and do that. After the horrific events of 9/11 I watched a White House Administration whip the American people up into a constant state of fear by invoking and using the horrific memory of that day to control its own citizens. Americans were going to bed frightened and waking up frightened.

Some for no logical reason started to fear those with a beard or a hijab or anyone who looked like a Muslim. Seeing people praying  is enough for some to become fearful. Attacks against Muslims have spiked in recent weeks - this is all playing into the hands of the terrorists. You see in terms of psychology there's little to separate the political haters and the terrorists ... they want to instil fear and achieve mind control.

Events like this will do far more to ease our anxieties than any new legislation. The question to ask governments is this: why would you want to erode our freedoms and liberties with new legislation to get back at the terrorists? What sort of response is that?

Here in the UK, I think we are all still reeling from Manchester, Westminster and London Bridge for no other reasons than our inability to explain these events. In some ways these atrocities have cast us adrift from logic and pushed us in to unchartered rivers of emotion. This makes every one of us a little more vulnerable, a little more fragile but what we must not do is give up any of our freedoms and liberties or relinquish our civil liberties because politicians says it is for the greater good.

A classic example of what can go wrong just happened last Thursday when British Prime Minister Theresa May tried to exploit the fear of the unknown caused by Brexit following the referendum on whether to stay or leave Europe. She tried to scare voters into believing that only her strong and stable leadership could save us all from the unknown. How's it working out Theresa? The answer is chaotic!

In France after a series of devastating attacks a state of emergency was called meaning groups of more than five people could not gather publicly for rallies or demonstrations. Punishing the freedoms and liberties of citizens only serves the bad people and those who would do us harm.

I think British people have shown they will not be pushed and cajoled by bullying politicians. Events like this one today was born out of one young man's desire to bring us all together in an act of solidarity bound by love for our fellow human beings. That young man is Omair Manzoor and he deserves a round of applause.

So today we come together in grief, in solidarity and in love to give a message to all those with bad intentions: We will not change.

 (Sister Yvonne Ridley is an author and journalist living in the UK. Her latest books is called TORTURE: Does it work? Interrogation issues and effectiveness in the Global War on Terror. You can order a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/Torture-Interrogation-issues-effectiveness-Global-x/dp/1782668306 )

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