Black Flags

Today we must protest the misrepresentation of Muslim flags. That white Arabic script on a black background is merely our testimony of faith, cry the wronged. That white circle inscribed with calligraphy is merely the seal of the Prophet, peace be upon him. This is simply the flag of the early Muslims, whimper believers, feeling under attack once more.

But is any of this really true? As I understood it, the first flags used by the Muslim community under the leadership of the Prophet, peace be upon him, were a plain black standard and a plain white banner. The black flag with the shahada on it seems to be based on the green Saudi flag, which is less than a century old.

If we’re honest, in recent times, the black flag with the shahada on it has always been associated with political movements such as Hizb-ut Tahir and Muhajirun. Current reactions to the flag popping up in peaceful communities are hardly surprising then.

There is nothing sinister about words of faith printed on a piece of fabric, but everything has a context and connotations. If the so-called Islamic State had instead chosen $ as its logotype, perhaps we would be having another discussion. But they didn’t and we’re not.

Once more we run headlong into an emotional defence, forgetting to ponder history, ancient and modern, to appreciate the perceptions of others, not just our own.

17 August 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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Ask those who came before you

Every generation sees signs that they’re living in extraordinary times. If only those that come after would ask those that came before. Keep on planting seeds; don’t slash and burn your crops.

16 August 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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Parody of righteousness

Why do those who commit enormities occupy themselves with the trivial faults of others? In their ravaging rampage, spilling the blood of innocents without pause, they have become a parody of righteousness. We must invest more in Mental Health care.

14 August 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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If you bomb people back to the stone age, don’t be surprised if they start acting like cavemen.

13 August 2014 by Timothy Bowes
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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
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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
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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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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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