Immediately after two Muslim men hacked to death a 25-year-old soldier named Lee Rigby on Wednesday in London, one of the killers, his hands still covered in blood, attempted to provide a reason for his crime with a short diatribe to a witness’ smartphone camera:
We swear by the Almighty Allah, we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone ... We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. I apologize that women had to see this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your governments. They don't care about you. Do you think David Cameron is gonna get caught in the streets when we start busting our guns? Do you think the politicians are gonna die? No, it's gonna be the average guy — like you.
In short, the man’s point was that because of England’s involvement in American-led wars in the Middle East, he and his comrade had no option but to execute an English soldier in retaliation, in broad daylight.
I’m not sure anyone in the world would say that civilian deaths due to America and its allies warring in a foreign country aren’t awful. Indeed, such deaths are a tragedy, and, sadly, far too few are ever acknowledged — truly acknowledged — in the Western media. That said, one has to wonder what killing a British soldier in London will really accomplish in terms of getting American and British (and other) soldiers out of Muslim countries, and putting an end to the West’s fear of Islam.
If we consider where much of America’s fear of Muslims comes from — and what got the ball rolling on the ugly recent wars in the Middle East — it was 9/11, an instance in which jihadists fighting in the name of Islam attacked thousands of innocent people who were just trying to go about their day. After that, the rest is history: turmoil, violence, and people stereotyping all Muslims as being dangerous threats.
Though they committed their act of violence on a much smaller scale, what those two killers did in London this week bears similarities to the same kind of violence that shook people to their cores more than a decade ago as they watched planes fly into the Twin Towers. And when people are scared, they behave foolishly and reflexively — which is why it’s no surprise that two people have already been arrested for attacking mosques in the wake of Rigby’s killing.
Two men killed an innocent man in order to make the point that the English need to let Muslims be, and in response English men have been attacking innocent Muslims. It’s the definition of a vicious cycle. And if we’d like the cycle to end, here’s a radical idea: Perhaps we can stop trying to kill one another for a change.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: AP Photo/Sang Tan)