Humans can be very funny sometimes. If I told you that a hate-filled man killed three young students it would be tragic news. If I told you they were community-serving, charitable, integrated and happy young people it would be even worse, no? Well, no, not really, certainly not if they’re Muslims. Because if they’re Muslims, their victimhood reduces in value.
Deah Barakat was a dental student who provided emergency dental care in Palestine and helped in the local community. His young wife, Yusor Abu-Salha was about to embark on her own studies and her sister, Razan, was studying Architecture and Environmental design. On Tuesday, all three ended up with a bullet in the head in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. It is a massacre that has not been awarded its proper place in the media.
When I heard that there was a fatal shooting at the Jewish Museum in Brussels my heart dropped. I knew what was coming, the media at first reported that they had no idea who had carried out the attack but I implicitly knew, and I’m sure so too did everyone else, that it had something to do with an extremist acting in the name of Islam. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before the news broke and it was confirmed that 29-year old French citizen and radical extremist, Mehdi Nemmouche carried out the attack. He’s part of ISIS – a group so radical that Al-Qaeda is distancing itself from them. The attack was shocking and cold-blooded and the ramifications are still being felt all over Europe, indeed in the Parisian Jewish quarter at 11pm on a Sunday night, eight days after the attack, there were two police officers with firearms patrolling the Jewish Museum of Art and History.
What’s jolted me into writing on this Tuesday morning was a special report yesterday on France Info – a French radio station. In discussing the incident I realised how the specifics are nothing new: a young, radicalised Muslim named X, joined radical group Y and carried out terrible act Z. The same old phrases surfaced – I can recite them in my sleep: ‘neighbours say he was polite…radicalised in prison…went to Syria…politicians addressing the issue of radicalisation…’ Though the language is different, the rhetoric is the same.
Let’s get one thing straight, if you replace the word ‘infidel’ for every time Elliot Rodger said ‘women/girl’ in his video or 140-page manifesto, America and the world would have branded ‘terrorism’ onto every newspaper headline following the Isla Vista massacre in California last week. Hell, Obama would have given a national address on TV, there would’ve been a manhunt all over town and one more broke-ass Muslim country would probably have been invaded – my money’s on one of the -Stans. If Rodger was a psycho extremist and not a psycho misogynist then the police who questioned him beforehand would have shipped him off to Guantanamo faster than he could have said ‘Al-Qaeda’ and not walked out, unconcerned, describing him as a ‘wonderful human being’. If he were to have said: ‘you infidels…I will punish you all for it’ (as opposed to girls) or ‘I will slaughter every single Western infidel…I will take great pleasure in slaughtering you’ (rather than spoilt, stuck-up blonde slut), it’s not hard to imagine just how polemical the reaction would have been – I can see the YouTube comments section now.
It seems to me as if society is dismissing women as the victims in this massacre because they are not regarded as undeserving, blameless targets, yet we are confounded if a maniacal extremist were to victimise members of Western society. We victimise our women so frequently that it does not come as a shock when one member goes rogue and takes it too far. We are all used to quotidian misogyny: it’s what allows the Daily Mail to run a feature on a bikini-clad girl who ‘teased’ Rodger, clearly implying he was nothing short of provoked by one more wily woman. If this was a terrorist attack, would the Mail or any other paper for that matter have run a feature on how the gunman’s neighbours were Islamophoic/xenophobic towards him? Obviously the two cannot be compared as cleanly as this, but I’m trying to point out the media’s double standards.
I grew up eating Halal meat, at 19 I decided I no longer wanted to eat meat, since then I’ve been a pescatarian. I gave up eating meat for a number of reasons, the two main ones being, first I didn’t like to touch raw meat so how could I reason consuming cooked meat? It seemed like too much of a contradiction. The second reason was less personal and more a statement on the meat industry: put simply, I didn’t like the way meat was sourced.
Meat production is a nasty industry; to keep up with demand and keep prices competitive animals have been pumped with steroids, kept in cruel conditions and ground up bones and all. This is a universal reality for the twenty-first centuries’ carnivorous ways: I remember watching a BBC Panorama special on how meat was created (note ‘created’ not ‘farmed’) when I was nine and a half and I can still remember the images of the chicken factory. Let’s not pretend that Tesco’s £3.30 chicken thighs or McDonald’s £2.90 Big Macs are the better and more humane alternative to Halal meat. In fact, the moment I decided I wanted to eat Halal meat exclusively was when I was 7 in a McDonald’s queue about to order a chicken mayo burger – I turned to my mum and told her my decision, she approved but told me that because I’d made her wait in line I was getting the chicken mayo regardless.