I work for a little charity in the east end called the Active Change Foundation who have come into some attention recently for our #NotInMyName campaign against the Islamic State.
I never expected to return to work on an international campaign but I did, and have been promoting ever since. Then the unthinkable happened: the little charity I have been with since January was name dropped at the UN general assembly by Barack Obama and the world went crazy. David Cameron echoed the mention and suddenly I felt we had hit the bigger big time. #NotInMyName
But what does any of this mean? Apart from my swelling chances of appearing on TV, and much appreciated recognition, not all that much. Not for our campaign anyway. #NotInMyName was referenced amid a call for attack and though I respect that a military decision must be made about Isis, any decision would bring equal sadness to my heart and cannot relate to the contrasting uplift felt with watching #NotInMyName
For Iraq has called upon us for much needed help but I wonder how many of its people must we hurt? Even if we were to strike Isis to pinpoint precision, only 1/3 of its members were estimated to be ideologies last time I checked, with the rest being coerced. Victims of hatred, barbarity, and irrationality are on the inside too. How many of Isis’ people are actually living la vida loca?
We must not either underestimate the validity of ideological war. There has been a scapegoat made of Muslims in the Western world and processes of alienation lead more young Muslims to question the value of jihad.
This is why #NotInMyName matters, and why it actually does make a difference. Extremists have made enemies of the West but people don’t see that the west has too made extremists of ordinary people. Once the rational world can stand together in solidarity then we can fight Isis. Not before.
I see the need for defence but my personal capacity for care extends to the long term. How long until the toxic Phoenix rises from the ashes? I do not deny that our fight is a slower path than that of the militants but perhaps if we can break a long cycle of bystander behaviour things can be changed bottom up.
Isis is a monster drawing power from the assaults of an outside world and the foundations of misinterpretation. It has enough power now that it does not know how to place it and without its faith (when The Islamic world says no), the only way is down.
I sit in solemn acceptance of military action, I have been told I dream a fairy tale. A tale where people in Algeria risk their lives holding up our placards, a tale where Isis are shaken enough to send us threats, and a tale where where four words can break the cycle of tyranny. #NotInMyName
Perhaps my fairytale has no place in politics but the liberalisation of society has created a vigilante of social media and I must remind you of the peaceful power held by another man that Obama referenced: Mahatma Gandhi.
If we must intervene, please, at least work with our voices.