Everyone is demonstrating for Gaza, but what about Iraq…
I was in a meeting earlier today with the kids who had rioted in the streets and shouted anti-Israeli slogans in the streets. These frustrated youth did millions of dollars worth of damage and destroyed police cars. They even attacked a man on the street who had tried to stop them. Right this moment two people are in a coma because of the polices heavy handed tactics to control the crowd, and 160 teenagers, 44 of them from Oslo area now have a police record and are under observation.
We had a meeting today organised by Rabita Mosque. The kids were going to be given the chance to tell us why they ran riot on the streets of Oslo practically three days in a row. The minister of education, police, members of the mosque and I was there.
The kids were told how destructive their actions were to the cause for Gaza and that because of the riots no one wanted to join future demonstrations. I tried to tell them how important it was to challenge their energy to do good instead of causing mayhem.
After 3 hours of debates and lots of questions from the kids we finished off. I looked out for the kids who were the most obstinant and went to greet them, in the hope to get them to join us collect money for Gaza or help us have a signiture campaign.
Bassem was angry – he was aggressive and said with a vengeance “I don’t care, why should I care about Oslo. Do they care about me? I come home and my mother crying. She’s crying all the time because of whats happening in Iraq. And I hate it. What shall I do? It hurts. I’m going to take my anger out cause no one cares about Iraq. No one cared when Iraq was bombed. No one cares and my mother keeps crying because of whats happening over there. Everyone is demonstrating for Gaza, but what about Iraq”.
Bassem is right in many ways. We have all failed Iraq. But how do you explain that everyone was in danger of being thrown into jail or under surveillance if they said anything against the War on Terror or supported the Iraqis. Since 2001 the split between we and them, where them=Muslims intensified. We were constantly told of the threat posed by terrorists on Western soil and Westerners generally were brainwashed into believing the Coalition of the Willings strategy plan of making the world a safer place.
What we forgot was the frustration and displacement of younger minorities who didn’t understand the war or the dynamics involved in alienating them. Whether they were teenagers in London, Paris, Oslo or New York. Muslim minorities in Western countries shared similar experiences. We have to use this information and these experiences to try and make a change so that the younger generation has self-respect, belonging and a feeling of self-worth.
That is where we come in. To show them they light.