Salesmen

Now that they have received written confirmation from Asda that it does not have a policy of barring entry to customers wearing their t-shirts, perhaps it’s time the t-shirt company updated the article on their website which first highlighted the alleged incident, rather than leaving this information buried in the comments thread.

As for the social media fire they’ve sparked: no idea how they’ll put that out. What a vast amount of timber can be set alight by the tiniest spark.

26 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Conflict, Reflections, Society, Technology | Leave a comment

The sanctity of life

The past century has witnessed such extreme violence, with 160 million people killed in war, that our leaders are incapable of taking a stance based on morality.

70 million people were killed over six years during World War II alone, around 60% of whom were civilians.

900,000 people were killed during Rwanda’s civil war in 1994. 75,000 people were killed in the war between Ethiopia and Eritrea between 1998 and 2000.

The war in Congo has left 3.8 million dead since 1998.

An estimated 40,000 died as a result of the US-led invasion of Afghanistan; 160,000 as a result of the invasion of Iraq.

300,000 killed over six years in Darfur. 38,000 in Pakistan’s war with the Taliban. 130,000 killed in Syria since 2012.

Staggering figures – and still only a small sample of recent and current conflicts worldwide. The bloodshed of the current era is without precedent.

The age of morality has long since passed. Our leaders can only take a stance based on strategic interest today; civilian lives are expendable in an era in which millions have already died.

Discovering that a few of the dead had lives, loves and dreams is simply an inconvenient truth: momentarily our leaders may squirm uncomfortably in the face of human reality, but ultimately the dead are merely statistics amongst hundreds of thousands already deceased.

We, the people, may lament the cold indifference of our leaders and their certain hypocrisy, but our politics have already been stamped with moral bankruptcy: vacuous platitudes about human rights can do nothing to bring millions of innocents back to life.

The hearts of our leaders are already dead. There is no morality here, no right and wrong or good and evil. There is strategic interest, money, power, greed and the domination of finite resources.

How can we explain to our leaders that all life is sacred? That to save one life is as if to save all humanity? Global society needs a reboot.

26 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Conflict, Reflections, Society | Leave a comment

Twitterocracy

Social media might represent the greatest driver to true democracy, but without without a moral basis which causes individuals to act with integrity and honesty, it is just as likely to lead to anarchic chaos.

25 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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Witnesses to truth

Last year, photos of the 2012 Istanbul Eurasia Marathon were shared all over the the internet amidst claims that they represented mass anti-government protests.

These claims were easily debunked, but others based on traffic accidents and earlier incidents were more difficult to verify and separate from genuine news.

In every conflict there is truth, truth mixed with falsehood, and straight falsehood.

In 2012, early in the Syria conflict, the BBC used a 2003 photo from Iraq to illustrate the Houla massacre. If their photo researchers can get it so wrong, what about us?

Please think twice about sharing photos of conflict if you have no idea where they come from.

The victims of the bombardment of Gaza will not be helped by the distribution of photos from 2009 and 2012, and from Syria, Iraq and other conflicts.

The victims of horrific violence need justice and aid, not advocacy based on partial misinformation. Be witnesses to truth.

24 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Conflict, Faith, Reflections, Representation, Society, Technology | Leave a comment

Utter Condemnation

Proof that the pen is mightier than the sword: Government immediately utterly condemns an MP’s tweet, but refuses to condemn shelling of hospitals and hundreds of missile strikes on family homes.

No nation would accept missiles raining down on them, they say (drone strikes on Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia don’t count).

So we refuse to condemn the slaughter of innocents. But it’s okay: pens are mightier than the most powerful armies on earth, and we will condemn anyone wielding a pen immediately and without reserve.

23 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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Elsewhere

Last week, while our eyes were turned away, 700 people were killed in Syria over a 48 hour period. But amidst 160,000 dead, such horrific figures no longer mean anything. We have lost our humanity.

22 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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Together

The world is too emotionally terrifying today, too draining and too frightening. Politicians, militants and social commentators alike want to divide us into groups, into us and them, to turn us on each other, to score points, to take sides, to have compassion for some and hatred for others.

Today the news is of the demise of Christianity in Iraq, as if the heritage and lives of Muslims wiped out at the same time and by the same aggressors do not count. To the author, it is us and them. While in Gaza, as vast weaponries rain down on civilians, the same commentators speak of Muslim populations, apparently set on the destruction of Israel. Never are the Christians of Gaza mentioned. Never, when Hanan Ashrawi so eloquently speaks for the suffering of her people, are we reminded of her faith.

For on the ground it is not us and them, but everyone all in it together. The powerful and well-armed clash, and all around ordinary people who have always lived side by side, scatter and scarper in an unholy terror. When will this madness end? Only when those of us, different though our faith may be, rally to each other’s aid and stand out for truth and justice, whether for friend or foe.

As the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “On the Day of Judgment I will be the advocate for the Jew or Christian whose right was violated.” As the Proverb goes: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink.”

21 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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Blaming victims

Every time there is an enquiry into how abusers were able to get away with their abuse for so long and why those who were abused were ignored, the state proudly proclaims: “Never again will we blame the victims for the crimes perpetuated against them.”

And yet here we are, witnessing the lives of innocents being torn apart, and once more our politicians are blaming the victims for the actions of their attackers, justifying the inexcusable without the faintest shred of compassion.

It is amazing to see that the powerful have no hearts.

21 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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Lizard holes

‘Israel has no civilians,’ says a friend: ‘all Israelis are soldiers, waiting to be called up.’

What, not even a 10 year old girl on her way to school or an old man in a care home?

To me, this sounds more like the sunnah of the Irgun gang than the noble deen I follow, which emphasises the impermissiblity of attacking women and children not engaged in direct combat (even if soldiers), where off-duty soldiers are treated as civilians and where collateral damage is considered unlawful (to my knowledge, only the Shafi’i school allows for the possibility of collateral damage, though even then only under specific conditions). Life is sacred.

The notion that all residents are legitimate targets may be the principle the Israeli government and their allies are following in deliberately targeting homes and hospitals, which are clearly non-military targets. But that is not our way.

‘You will surely follow the path trodden by those before you,’ said our blessed Prophet, peace be upon him, ‘step-by-step and inch-by-inch, so much so that if they went down into a lizard hole, you would follow them.’

Our turning away from the rules of war defined by Sacred Law is most certainly a catastrophic lizard hole to charge down, that will only result in more innocents suffering, everywhere.

Where are the wise ones who can advise us, in light of the strict codes of warfare and rules of engagement defined by Sacred Law, how the transgressed should fight back against tyrannical occupiers backed by the richest nations, who use the most sophisticated weapons on earth to destroy homes, kill and maim, and seize yet more land?

Our Sacred Law says be just, even with the enemy. Where are the wise ones who can tell us what this means, and who can set us back on track?

21 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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Do good

“Serve God and associate nothing with Him; and do good: to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbours who are near, neighbours who are strangers, the companion by your side, the traveler, and what your right hands possess: For God does not love not the arrogant, the boastful.”  — Qur’an 4:36

14 July 2014 by Timothy Bowes
Categories: Conflict, Inspiration | Leave a comment

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