7/7 and Srebrenica: Tolerance Must Prevail

 MAB President

By Omer El-Hamdoon, President of the Muslim Association of Britain

Follow: @Omer_Elhamdoon

This year is a commemorative year. July is a commemorative month. Today marks the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings. A disgusting and evil attack on British soil, by those who lived and nurtured in Britain, a betrayal.

Those who committed the bombings wanted to fragment our society, by spreading hatred and intolerance throughout. No doubt they were propagating an “us” and “them” narrative.

Unfortunately, they achieved some of their aims. For, after the horrendous attack on civilians in London, hatred multiplied pathologically like bacterial growth on an agar plate.British society has tolerance as one of its long held values. For some, the 7/7 bombings allowed for some of that tolerance to be blown away. We witnessed an increase in attacks against Muslims. Women had their scarves pulled off their heads. Verbal and physical abuse multiplied and Anti Muslim rhetoric become altogether more noticed. Muslims were forced to apologise for this crime, even though they share as much with the terrorists as the Irish share with the IRA.

The casualties of this atrocious attack were large. Tens lost their lives, hundreds injured, thousands left grieving and a nation scarred. A tear developed in the fabric of society as well.

This month and year is also the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre: the worst massacre and atrocity in European soil since Second World War. That time, the victims were Muslims and the perpetrators were Christian. 8372 Bosnian men and boys were systemically butchered at the hands of the Serbs. This massacre which the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague labelled as a Genocide and a crime against humanity.

We know that Christianity is innocent of who murdered the men and boys in cold blood; as much as Islam is innocent of the barbaric attack of 7/7 or indeed the recent Tunisian massacre. In fact, I attended, along with thousands of others a memorial in Westminster abbey – yesterday – to pay respect to those who suffered and continue to suffer because of this horrid genocide.

However, the killers who orchestrated 7/7 and the Serbian butchers of Srebrenica have one thing in common. They wanted to divide us. They wanted to bulldoze the civil architecture of our societies by spreading hate, anger and suspicion. And till today, there are those who still want to divide us. Some are terrorists, others extremists; and some are politicians and journalists! You don’t have to be a terrorist to propagate a hate message. Hate messages come in all shapes and sizes.

Dr Waqar Azim OBE says: “They [Army of Republika Srpska] achieved this [ethnic cleansing] through a carefully planned process of de-humanising Bosnian Muslims, so both murderers and collaborators found it easier to hunt and kill their quarry.” De-humanising any section of society can only lead to fear and hatred, which can then lead to massacres and terror.

The Muslim Association of Britain works hard to promote positive messages in society, which allows us to be more and more tolerant to one another. Because we believe that positivity and tolerance is the only way to counter terrorism.