Unless you have actually seen terrorism and the extremist mentality that fostered it, it is hard to comprehend. Having lived and worked in the Middle East and seen the everyday Muslim, versus the tiny minority of fanatics, it comes as no surprise that one of the terrorists’ aims was to generate and promote Western xenophobia and extreme reactions to these horrible events. That is, among other aims, a core objective in their anti-Western campaign. T
hey succeed when they instill irrational fear and excessive hatred in their victims and targets. They are getting what they wanted, and at a very cheap price. After all, they killed 129 infidels and only lost half a dozen or so fanatics…..in their way of thinking, a highly successful enterprise.
Some US states are refusing to take Syrian refugees, some European countries are trying to close their borders to them as well. In my country of Canada, there is a petition currently circulating, demanding that our government renege on its promise to welcome 25,000 refugees over the next few months. If enough countries do this, we will have created the ideal recruitment grounds for ISIS and their confreres among the desperate refugees, even as they are fleeing these murderers in the first place.
Strangely enough, Football might be a source of hope to help remedy this terrible no-win situation by offering new refugees a source of enjoyment and solidarity with Western values and social activities. Most refugees come from countries with National Associations that are members of FIFA, actively play the game AND value it as well. They are passionate about the game and have many of their Muslim brothers and sisters playing at a very high level.
FIFA, UEFA, other FA’s and conference organizations (CONCACAF, CONMEBOL, etc.)as well as we supporters and lovers of the beautiful game, have an extraordinary opportunity to assist in this humanitarian crisis, by doing some or all of the following as a start;
- Publicly come out on the side of the refugees and their integration into their new homes by local and national authorities,
- Provide mechanisms where the refugees can participate in Football regardless of where they are, by offering some financial and particularly coaching support to countries taking in these people,
- Encouraging tolerance and acceptance of divergent immigrants and populations by football supporters in their new homes, which is one of FIFA’s principle vocations, according to their charter,
- Promoting active participation of football supporters worldwide in raising support and funds to help these people find a soft landing in their new countries,
- Encouraging football supporters to participate in accomodating some of these refugees by offering sanctuary, guidance and brotherhood (sisterhood?) as they attempt to adjust to their new lives far from their former homeland,
- Encouraging football supporters to pressure their local, state and national political bodies and sports administrators into expanding and committing to socially and financially aid as many refugees as can be safely accommodated,
- Finally, promoting FIFA to take the lead in this refugee aid campaign through their public and very vocal support and involvement in every aspect of this effort.
Terrorism does not hold any overwhelming or immediate threat for me personally, as I live in a place that is far from such menaces BUT that could change in short order, as no one is safe from such extremism. The more immediate threat to our values and way of life is, imho, the knee-jerk, ill-informed xenophobia and chauvinism some of my countrymen and fellow citizens are starting to show vis-à-vis these unfortunates, who are simply trying to flee violence, intimidation,sectarianism and unmitigated cruelty.
There is the persistent and irrational fear, above all others, that we will unwittingly let in terrorists by allowing massive influxes of Muslim refugees to come to our shores, and that they will plan and carry out attacks against us like the Paris tragedy.
In actual fact, these terrorists are already here and they don’t need the camouflage of refugees to continue their murderous rampages. My firm conviction is that, by welcoming Muslim refugees into our midst, treating them with dignity and supporting their integration, while respecting their beliefs and traditions, we will mitigate any damage that terrorists will try. Why do I say this? Because, from direct personal experience, I know that 99.99% of Muslims abhor what these terrorists do and given the chance, would gladly distance themselves from such un-Islamic behaviour. They are intimidated by these people, just like us and would welcome their disappearance once and for all!
I have heard far too many say that we should ship them all back to where they came from and let them kill each other, or worse still, never let any of them in in the first place. This is the familiar refrain that the xenophobes and racists chauvinists chanted during the Jewish and Irish holocausts of the last two centuries among many others. We of the footballing brotherhood/sisterhood are surely above this blinkered and ultra-racist sewer in which a few self-righteous ancestors of immigrants condemn immigrants and immigration they don’t like.
What else can we do as a Footballing nation to cross the boundaries of race,creed,colour and gender to ensure that these refugees find safe haven among us?
- 19 November 1932: Aston Villa 5 Arsenal 3 Jack, Lambert and Bastin scored. It was part of a run in which Arsenal scored 40 goals in nine games, 12 of which came from Bastin.
- 19 November 2011: Having been 15th in the league (with Tottenham 17th) Arsenal scored their fifth win in a row with a 2-1 away with to Norwich, scoring 15 goals. They ended the season in 3rd; Tottenham came in fourth.
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