Teenager Ahmed Hassan is sentenced to life with a minimum term of 34 years after leaving a homemade bomb on a packed underground train.
He just looks like any other teenager. His hair is a little crazy and looks like he hasn’t slept or eaten a decent meal in weeks. But Ahmed Hassan is a convicted terrorist who brought shock and panic to the capital September last year.
‘I sentence you to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 34 years. You will have plenty of time to read the Koran in prison. The Koran is a book of peace. Islam forbids breaking the law of the land. Islam forbids terrorism. You have violated Islam and the Koran by your actions.’
These are the words of Mr Justice Haddon-Cave the judge who sentenced Hassan. These aren’t taken lightly and not out of malice. They aren’t words that have been used in the heat of radicalisation or without knowledge and experience. Yet there are those people still in this country who have no idea how and what Muslims believe. They have taken it upon themselves to be educated by tabloid newspapers and right-wing commentators who claim to speak for the ordinary working man.
I have seen all sorts of ridiculous claims over the last few months about misconceptions and blatant fallacies when it comes to Islam. I challenged one person who said ‘They never arrest any Muslims and send them to prison like they do to Britain First leaders’. I gave them numerous examples of how this wasn’t the case; facts don’t matter to them.
Islam is a religion of peace. I will say that until my dying day. It is those who chose to distort, lie and make up their own rules to suit their interpretations of Qu’ran. You can take any holy teachings or writings and mangle them to your own way of thinking. You will see the world how terrorists and right-wing commentators want you to see it that process is called radicalisation. You are believing misconceptions, biased opinions, perverted and altered for their own ends.
I want peace, calm and tranquillity. I want unity among people of different faiths, religions and practices. I want to live in a world were people of different backgrounds and countries can learn from each other. I want to know how and why people think they way they do and educate myself. Make myself a better person and not shutting myself off from other human beings. This planet is an amazing place. It is full of decent, wonderful, hardworking people who make a great contribution to it. Closing your mind to the world is ignorance.
There ‘s a cool breeze blowing throughout my house as I sit at my computer near to the front window. Something I know that would be very welcome to a lot of people who are stuck in offices with windows that open less than a cm due to health and safety rules. The irony is that it’s not okay to fall out of the window but practically a given that you should slowly cook confined in the space behind them.
What we desire, want and permissible are not usually things that we think about when we are content in life. To some it is money. To others, it could be the happiness in seeing your children and grandchildren grow up safely in a world of worry and hazards that are all too familiar once you look at the news each day.
I have had a privileged life in the fact that I have been able to get a decent education and afford to live in my own home. Now that both my parents have gone I feel I should be sensible and grown up in making life choices. After some thought and careful consideration, it is time to move on.
This decision I made was twenty years ago and not today or yesterday. I made it through hindsight and experiences I had in the years before. I gave up religion for good. I wasn’t a backslider anymore. Someone that may go back to church after a few weeks of absenteeism. I hadn’t had the spiritual flu or suffered a minor problem with my faith. It wasn’t there at all.
Each day I am reminded that the decision was the right one. Reading the updates about how a bakery in Northern Ireland has appealed a decision handed down by the courts in the fact that they discriminated against someone on the basis of their sexuality makes me realise I am better away from such organisations. I want nothing of them anymore. I have met my closest friends through church youth groups and I have some fantastic friends who would call themselves Christians. But your religion ends where my non-belief begins.
I have no problem with teaching religion. I did it for years in crappy school. But I taught it knowing that I would be talking about someone else’s religion someone else’s belief. If only there was more teaching of decent religious education would we have a more tolerant society? Less gullible in believing that if a handful of crazed idiots were to represent an entire religion then it would seem that everyone in that religion held the same views. I know and have met many Muslims who don’t think that ISIS is right just in the same way that the Christians in Northern Ireland don’t hold the same views as my Christian friends. I can distinguish between the two.
The faith that once I held has died. This means it cannot be revived by any means. I believe that once something is dead it’s dead. No amount of prayer, drugs or electronic stimulation will it allow it to live again. The story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to me is a story. Others might choose to believe it as a literal story. Others will see it as work of fiction.
I respect others and their faith. I have no problem in the talking about Islam or Taoism. I don’t see any problem in talking about it. I wouldn’t mind writing about or making a living discussing them it doesn’t break any rules. Even when I did have a faith I know that talking about others beliefs didn’t make a bad person.
Thank goodness I have left it behind. The petty arguments the church is having over two people of the same sex getting married is ridiculous. I do like talking and discussing religious and non-religious belief I have always been fascinated with belief systems. But to me they are stories. We will see more and more of these cases that I am sure. Where once the Church of England was a great moral bastion above reproach we will see more fundamentalist groups appear fighting their cause. The Church of England will become nothing more than a meeting group for the lonely. Something to wheel people into once a week and then wheel out again.
To be honest I have never liked birthdays. Ever since I can remember they were always a disappointment growing up. Things happened at parties which I wish hadn’t. It’s all left a rather bitter taste in my mouth.
Never been a fan of big parties in fact in all I have only had two parties where a lot of people have been invited. The rest of them I have preferred to spend time on my own. A few years ago I sat in my garden and polished off a rather nice bottle of champagne. It was total bliss.
So it probably won’t come to as surprise to tell you I spent mostly today sitting in a second hand book shop in Alnwick.
A pleasant place where I could gather my thoughts, browse the shelves and relax. I know what EVERYONE is thinking. Where are the strippers? This is boring! I won’t make any apologies but I have had my time with strippers and that’s called my 20s. I enjoyed that but it’s now settling down. I don’t see it as boring as see it as a chance for me to get out and do the things I want to do.
I have never had a group of friends badgering me to go out to nightclubs or places I cannot stand. If I don’t want to go somewhere I tell them. If I cannot be bothered to go out they won’t get offended they just accept it.
What’s the point in doing what others want you to do? Just be happy and do what you want to. I said this is what I am and I am happy with it.
Before I left I had a nice coffee and a piece of carrot cake. Really nice. If you want to know where the place was it was Barter Books in Alnwick, England. Near where the filmed Harry Potter you know … Okay you can shut up now.