them (and me)


I went to an Eid event yesterday, organised by some friends of mine, for families. Over the course of the evening, I had conversations with different people - some of whom I have never met before, including, separately, two old Somali ladies. They both talked about the imminent war with Iraq and the anti-Muslim propaganda being promulgated by the government and the media.

The first lady asked, what were tanks doing at Heathrow on Eid? Of course nothing would happen that day and anyway, it makes it seem that Islam is about terrorism. I said yes I agree. I didn't say, you are preaching to the coverted. I think she just needed to say it to a non-Muslim. She then asked, what I do say when the little ones watch the tv and turn around and ask, why do they want to kill me? me, meaning me as a Muslim? There is nothing to say, except that I know about scapegoating...

A second lady sat next to me at the end of the night and said, Muslims like all religions, like Christians. We are not haters. I didn't expalin to her that I am Jewish. I didn't want to go down that route so I let her assume I was Christain because I am white and living in Britain.

Much later I was with some young people. We were talking about the march and whether we were going on it. One 17 year old Bengali boy talked about how America was going to have their ass kicked, and how they were going to bomb Israel. He doesn't know I am Jewish, but some of the people he was with do. I said, I am just against this war, bombing innocent people. He said, be careful, it's the end of the world. I said every generation since the beginning of time have said that. He said, no it's true it's written in the Qu'ran.

You see, it's not like I haven't heard war-mongering language from both sides. It's not like I don't know how easy it can be to hate when you feel threatened.
He is a 17 year old boy.
But I will meet him again, because we have mutual acquaintances, and I will talk to him, and you never know, he might see me and my people as humans, who deserve not to be bombed as well.

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