Following the deadly explosions near the finishing line of the Boston Marathon yesterday, leaving three people dead and at least 140 injured, the reactions by Muslims, Islamophobes and those who do no fit into those two categories have been highly revealing.
On the one hand, many Muslims across the world have been bracing themselves for the worst. The news that the perpetrator[s] is a Muslim will be met with huge disappointment, sadness and anger. It is the vast majority of Muslims across the world who, unfairly, will face the backlash if the attacks happen to be by a crazy, Muslim extremist. What is more, it has put Muslims on the defensive. One Twitter user rightly said:
While it does little good to speculate, speculation whether the perpetrator was a Muslim or not ensued straight after the bombings. #Muslims began trending on Twitter. This is something shocking. While there are those who either play down Islamophobia or say that it doesn’t exist, the reaction after the bombings was Islamophobia at its worst. It showed, without doubt, an “irrational fear” of Muslims and Islam. Let’s not forget that the 2011 Norway bombings were blamed on Al-Qaeda and Muslims before it was found out it was done by Anders Breivik.
Some say that we don’t use the word ‘Christianophobia’ so why do we use the word ‘Islamophobia’? Well, for a start, maybe its because anytime a bomb goes off across the world we instantly presume it to be Muslims, not Christians. It’s a perfect manifestation of the climate certain aspects of the right-wing media have created. The truth is only a tiny minority of terrorist attacks in Europe and America are carried out by Islamist extremists, you only have to look at the results from Europol and the FBI.
Despite this, it hasn’t stopped Islamophobes fear mongering. The EDL leader Tommy Robinson retweeted: “Muslims have been responsible for 99.9% of terror attacks worldwide”.
Footballer Joey Barton, who has over 2m Twitter followers, speculated that the bombings may have been because of the hatred of “infidels” (draw from that whatever conclusions you like).
There have been others who, since the bombs exploded, were quick to play down what was happening in Boston and deflect attention to the disasters in Palestine, Syria, Iraq and other countries. While their concerns are justified and, indeed, far too often not taken seriously enough, this is not a “competition”, as one Twitter user remarked quite aptly.
Yes, there were horrific attacks yesterday in Baghdad killing 33 and air raids in Syria killing 12 children, but let’s treat each disaster on its own merit, instead of unhelpfully comparing each one.
Perhaps the reasons why we react so strongly whenever there is a bomb in Europe or America is simply because of the scarcity of them. It’s a sad reality that bombs go off frequently in the East and it is even more sad that many of us have become desensitised by it all. However, just because we have not become desensitised to bombings in the West is no reason to deflect attention away from them.
Whether we like it or not, most of us all have a huge affiliation with America. We have grown up watching TV programmes and films produced in the States, visited DisneyLand Florida or perhaps New York City. The truth is we share probably much more with America than we do Eastern countries, so when there is a tragedy, it is natural to react with revulsion: it is, in a sense, much more closer to “home”.