Now here we go again! In regards to the Paris attacks, while I did not anticipate that the next incident will happen in France, the laws of probability dictate that every few months, based on the size of our world and the oppression that exists, an attack is bound to happen somewhere on this planet, and this same terrible cycle will keep repeating itself (make sure to read number 10):
1- Some fanatics somewhere will kill civilians in the name of a religion, ideology, or just out of pure anger.
2- The international media will either call it "an isolated incident by a lunatic fanatic" or a "terrorist attack" depending on who did it.
3- In the first case (anyone other than Muslims), the media will mention it either briefly or largely, depending on the size of the incident and the juicy details, but people will mourn for a few days then move on shortly after.
4- In the second case where the attackers happen to be Muslims (regardless of their belief being the cause), the news will make it to every front page and the highlight of the breaking news segment.
5- Muslim religious leaders (including myself) will come out in large to condemn the attacks, but since their access to mainstream media is limited, their voices will not reach too far (Leaders of other religions however, rarely apologize, even when the attackers quote their religion, because people don't generalize about others).
6- People in large will be outraged against Muslims, and will split between those who are just and won't generalize, and those who have been conditioned by society to spread hate and overgeneralize, or are simply confused by false information.
7- A backlash will happen in which Muslim looking people (or anyone with "their" skin colour, as if they have one!) will be attacked in the streets and near the Mosques. Right wing extremists will take every chance to pass their agenda and spread even more hate. That hate, will breed more hate among some Muslims who will feel more oppressed and targeted.
8- Laws will be passed to make life more difficult for peaceful practicing Muslims (and everyone else de facto), both in Western countries and even in some Muslim majority countries. Those laws will include more surveillance powers for those who are hungry for power and have an agenda, slowly justifying more mass spying and mass discrimination.
9- After a few months, somewhere in this huge world, another uncontrolled and unpreventable incident will happen somewhere else, and the whole cycle of hate will repeat, but the intensity of the cycle will gradually increase, because as long as oppression and hate exists, violence (justified or not) will co-exist too!
10- Number 10, and this is the most dangerous of all, is that at some point, the outrage will reach a critical point, where people who have been feed hate by the media will feel that enough is enough and will start to act irrationally and violently on a wide scale, calling for mass harm against Muslims. History shows us that this has happened many times before to many ethnicities, and not so long ago!
Therefore, the question for all Muslim leaders and people of justice is: how do we plan to break this vicious cycle before it reaches the dangerous critical point? It's time to hold the wheel of a sinking ship and steer it in the right direction to prevent the storm from flipping the entire ship. And for that to happen, we all need to put our hands together, and draft and implement systematic and well researched long term solutions beyond just the typical, usual, and automatic condemnation!
If we want humanity to learn that Islam is the religion of mercy (out of honour and respect, not out of apologies and weakness like we say it today), then we need to move beyond words and into action. Humanity needs to see it, not hear it. Lets move beyond slogans. At the same time, hate from the other side has to stop too, and the media needs to grow up and be more responsible.
While nothing justifies any violence on civilians, if you keep referring to attacks on Muslims as "freedom of speech", and attacks on all other religions and races as "hate speech", then this duality and double standards will increase the hate, and hate breeds hate. We will do our part to educate people and stop (or at least minimize) the hate and violence, but in order for us to succeed, you need to help us and do your part to stop the seeds of hate by being more consistent and balanced in your loose definition about freedom of speech. Otherwise, we all loose. Peace!
_ Sheikh. Waleed Abdulhakeem