Friday, 3 July 2015

Tunisia Attack: Remember The Victims But Don't Forget The Past

At 12 noon today the United Kingdom fell silently as we remembered the victims of last Friday's terrorist attack in Tunisia, as innocent sunbathers (many of them British) were shot dead as they tried to enjoy a perfect summers day. ISIS are believed to be behind the atrocity which has once again sparked a debate about whether we should do more militarily to fight back.

The same offensive rhetoric has been replayed on a daily basis for the past seven days, many right wingers utilising this incident to promote their racist view points. I think it is clear that this act of terror was not on behalf of the entire Muslim community, but many try to label that as being the case. ISIS have a warped ideology and represent a tiny minority of Muslim people, it angers me when I hear the branding an entire community based on the actions of a minority.

Furthermore the conversations towards the end of the week has been focused more and more on military action, with the prospect of the government going to the House of Commons to get a mandate to extend airstrikes to Syria. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said yesterday that it was "illogical" that the UK had joined airstrikes in Iraq, but not joined the likes of the United States and Arab nations with airstrikes in Syria.

As the day came to a close yesterday, unsurprisingly the events which occurred in Tunisia and the rhetoric surrounding airstrikes was top of the agenda on BBC Question Time. One member of the audience really caught my attention, his viewpoint in a nut shell was the following:

"We need to bomb because we need to do something"

To me as a Liberal and as someone with common sense, it seems utterly idiotic and nothing more than a knee jerk reaction to a terrible tragedy. I can understand the gentleman's anger but this suggestion just appears to be completely pointless. If we spend millions of pounds worth of tax payers money and blow up a convoy of ISIS trucks for example, will that make us any safer here in Britain? Of course it won't. Will that make Britons visiting other seaside destinations overseas any safer? Of course it won't. It is simply pointless.

Then there is the matter of Britain's past interventions in the Middle East. Have people forgotten about Iraq? A campaign which was meant to last months, extended to last over a decade. Is that really what we want all over again, boots on the ground and more innocent lives lost. And when we look back at the Iraq invasion of 2003, even without mentioning the fact that it was illegal, what exactly has been achieved by that intervention, have we stopped terrorism? All that's happened is the further loss of innocent lives.

I am thankful that the hunger to commit to airstrikes and put boots on the ground is mostly non-existent, among sensible thinking people in this country, but there still exists this idea, mostly on the right side of the political spectrum, that we need to take military action because we simply just "need to do something" in retaliation for what happened in Tunisia. This view pays no attention to what has come before, which I find completely ill-informed and dangerous.

Russell Brand this week said the minute of silence to remember the victims of the Tunisia attack was "bullshit". For all I understand where Brand was coming from, I think his rant was out of place. Making a political point out of a minutes silence. The silence was for the victims, it shouldn't be hijacked as a political football. Lets remember the victims, but of course we must also remember the past, otherwise we are just stuck in a cycle when it comes to the Middle East. Attack, followed by years of intervention, followed by another attack, followed by more intervention, it's a cycle that will never stop.

Will we ever defeat ISIS and other radical/warped ideology? Probably not in fairness. There will always be those out there who just want to hurt and kill, that's always been the case and I fear it always will. The best way I believe to fight it is to fight it with education, fight against the ideology, if we can convince just a handful of people to get educated and prevent them from being radicalised, we have done more than any amount of bombing could ever achieve.

-Sam

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