Anyone who has visited my social media pages will be aware of my commitment to the Humanist cause in the UK. My stance may have soften somewhat in the past year or two, but I am no persuaded that God exists, and belief in the supernatural leads humans to do some stupid things.
In light of the resurgence of “All Muslims are potential terrorists” ire that has emerged since the atrocities conducted in Paris recently, I was reminded of something. My Muslim correspondent on Facebook, on seeing my family and I get together for Hallowe’en, immediately presumed us ALL to be humanist and labelled us as such (Hallowe’en being All Hallows Night, has roots in paganism and early Christianity).
I immediately got on my high horse and replied in no uncertain terms that although I count myself as Humanist and secular, I cannot account for my family’s personal beliefs, which are individual and private. None of us are churchgoers, but I know not what level of faith or not they have, and I dare not presume. I always leave it up to them to keep their thoughts on the matter to themselves, as is their right.
So we are no longer Christian, but we are not pagan either. We use holidays and festivals to catch up, rather than take notice of the festival’s origins. Indeed, my husband marked last Christmas Day wearing an atheist t-shirt (Atheism: a Non-Prophet Organization).
But a presumption remains that because one human being follows an ideal, his or her peers/friends/family follow the same. It is absolutely not true. The same could be said of political ideals. Often politics and reliion mix, although in my utopian world, the two never should.
It is an undeniable fact that of the terrorist atrocities performed around the world since the 9/11 attacks in New York, most were committed by Islamists. Of course, I remember Anders Breivik, a white supremacist, in Norway. He had a political and religious ideal, no different from the Islamist attacks. He didn’t like Islam (I suspect the feeling was mutual).
It is also an undeniable fact that British Muslims bombed London in 2005. But get this, they were four men. The percentage population in the UK affiliated with the Muslim faith is around 4% of the total, and although growing, is still tiny. Living in a city, perhaps I feel I come into contact with Muslims very regularly, but they are not spread equally across the nation, mainly settling in larger towns and cities. So four men from 4% of the UK population. Tiny.
I also get that whilst some Muslims sympathise with the jihadi cause, the vast majority of those are not engaged in terrorist activity. I mutter about the obligatory call to worship in primary schools, I complain about it, but I don’t take direct action over it. The Muslims I know through my work do not support Jihad or terrorism. They like the quiet life.
Belief is very personal. There are differing levels of belief. There are differing levels of feeling injustice. There are differing feelings of needing to protest. The abused, bullied, weak minded and easily manipulated fall more easily into the trap. The stronger minded see reason, and resist. No two human beings are the same.
Although I can presume my Muslim correspondent is related to other Muslims I must not fall into the trap that they all are, or that any of them want jihad. In the same way other faiths must not presume to comment on my family’s beliefs, but we are all different. If we stripped back the religion, and listed our values, we would see they are much the same, on a philosophical level. That should be our uniting force, against powers who wish to highlight our differences.
Peace. Love. Cake.
#parisattacks #vivelafrance #labataclan