The news this week that an American journalist was killed by an alleged British Islamist militant for the self-proclaimed Islamic State has sent shock waves around the world. As a budding journalist and videographer/photojournalist, this latest media casualty has put the spot light very much on what it means to be on the frontline and our hearts go out to his family.
The death of James Foley in such apparent barbarism has led to Barack Obama coming out of the woodwork to state that the US had in-fact, been trying to rescue hostages held by the self titled Islamic State in Syria but to no avail. The President did not specify whether or not James Foley, who has been missing since 2012, was one of the identified targets that they were looking to rescue but anonymous sources within the US government have apparently confirmed this to be the case. News has started to come out that there was a ransom demand made of $132m by ISIS to Global Post, launching a debate about the issue of negotiating ransom but surely the issue is about fostering a global community whereby this does not happen in the first instance?
The death of James Foley must however not be used as a pretext to justify intervention in Syria or elsewhere.
In the video of James Foley’s execution, a statement is read by James with degrees of truths within it, whether it was ‘clearly coerced’ or not – as claimed by the New York Post. The message claims that the American government and military occupation and interventionism of Iraq was to blame for his death and whether we want to accept this or not, it is a harsh reality that we must all face up to. We have to ask ourselves tough questions, such as whether or not the illegal wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have actually served to make the world a safe place? I would suggest that the answer to that question by all, with the exception of the people with vested business interests in the Middle East and military contractors would be ‘No’. We have seen the progressive dismantling of our liberties with a succession of draconian policies implemented for our own safety, war has spread through the Middle East with some of the most devastating consequences for civilians in Syria, Libya, Bahrain and Iraq. We too have seen an increase in hate crimes on our own soil, with the murder of Lee Rigby, Muslim women stabbed in the streets, Mosques defaced, the rise of Britain first and UKIP and bombs in our own capital.
Are we really any safer today than we were in the immediate aftermath of 9/11?
The rise of extremism is not confined solely to that of a minority of people claiming to be undertaking the work Allah or Islam, it is also present in the decision-making processes of our governments who back, arm and then later bomb time after time, rebel groups and uprisings, such as the rebels in Syria, who are now the ‘problem’ in Iraq. Our governments are responsible for indiscriminate drone bombing programs in Pakistan and Yemen, which have killed women and children and we have supported the state of Israel through their occupation with aid and arms for the last 70 years. Along with centuries worth of conquest and raids for land and resources, is it any wonder that the world – as it lays carved up today – is in disarray, or that there are groups rising up against the dominant imperial forces?
Religion, all religions, share a message of peace. These messages are perverted by a few from all sides to justify atrocities, much as we have used propaganda to justify atrocities of our own over the centuries. We must not capitulate to the establishments base desire to foster hate and come to the realisation of our commonality, rather than that of our differences and begin to heal the wounds caused by parties on both sides of this war of terror being waged allegedly on our behalf. Enough blood has been shed on both sides to last a lifetime – no more.
Crimes and atrocities occur when we fail to realise that we are all human beings, one species divided by culture.