Bismillah, Why Here?

We must keep up some semblance of normal life. If we were to cancel our plans, hide in our homes and cower in fear, the terrorists will have got what they wanted!

So say the British as London was bombed twice in these past weeks. Where other cities and other nations would be erupting with fear and panic, one gets the impression of the Brits sipping tea and chatting idly about the horse races as explosions rattle out in the distance. How are these people so calm?

It comes from experience, I’m told. After all, London has survived the Great Fire of 1666, the German Blitz in World War II, and a relatively steady deluge of IRA (Irish Republican Army) bombings that may have yet to cease. Londoners simply can’t afford to think twice about being attacked, because if they did their lives would be forever on hold.

It’s no surprise really that panic in London has not ensued. Indeed, as the city came under attack, everyone stayed at work, everyone did their jobs, and aside from a few cancelled meetings in London, people just got on with it. Even most television channels returned to their usual programming, broadcasting the horse races, bargain hunting and antique shows that generally grace the TV screen in the afternoons. It’s not just speculation — the Brits really are sipping tea and chatting about the races while things explode in the distance! I see them doing it.

The question really is, why London, yet again? On the surface of course, the United Kingdom capital is an obvious target. A prime example of the evils of Westernization, if that’s what you’re after. The citizens shop, dress casually, and are really quite liberal in all aspects of their lives. Aside from that, this country is directly involved in the U.S. led war in Iraq, a fact that further infuriates Islam extremists. It seems the final straw came two weeks ago as Tony Blair hosted the G8 Summit in Edinburgh. All those rich and empowered world leaders gathered together at one location was just too great of an opportunity to miss for the recently deceased terrorists. As a result, London paid the price. But hold on here:the price for what?

The usual ambivalent answer aside (“We are terrorized because they hate our freedoms”), I would like to portray just how wrong these people were in attacking London. Underneath the public fa├žade of staunch American ally and fighter of terrorism, British citizens live in stark contrast to international opinions of them. Led by a Prime Minister who is steadily losing popularity, it is worth noting that the British people did not want to go to war at all — only George Bush and Tony Blair did. Anti-war public protests in recent years have reached enormous proportions, even on the very streets of the city so recently ravaged by bomb blasts. How can Al Kaeda or whichever splinter group is responsible for these attacks have possibly condemned such people, who in fact did not want to send troops into Iraq in the first place?

In addition to huge public disagreement with their own government over the war and anti-terrorism efforts, I have found the British media to be extremely supportive of Muslim culture. The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and Channel 4 in particular have produced exemplary programs that highlight both the differences and similarities between Western and Middle Eastern cultures. I have been incredibly impressed with the high quality of journalism presented on local television here in Britain. During my stay in Britain, I’ve enjoyed programming designed to show viewers that not all Muslims are terrorists, and that Muslim communities around the world have actual reasons to dislike our society. It’s not always pretty, but it’s the truth. The British media does not shy away from the truth. I feel like this country that deserves our praise was instead bombed by terrorists.

It seems now terrorist attacks are getting less and less poignant. The people of Britain have their issues, like the rest of the world, but they were working hard to be fair. The citizens and the media have reached out to minority communities within the United Kingdom and offered them compromise. All the people of Britain want is peace and prosperity, but what do they get instead? Londoners, tourists and even fellow Muslims are subjected to terror and death. From my perspective, these terrorists have ceased to be martyrs for a cause. Now, they’re just idiots with bombs.