Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The UK Riots:
Is it Poverty or Greed?
By Yamin Zakaria
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 15, 2011
There is chaos in the stock market, and on the streets of
London. Is there a connection between the rioters and the investors? The
common thread is economics, as some argue that a lack of economic
opportunities is causing, or at least contributing, to these riots; the
youths dissatisfied are expressing their anger. Well so far, most of those
wearing hoods and with faces covered have prepared for a different agenda,
and that is looting. To date, no one has come forward elaborating the case
for their violent dissent, and under those circumstances, one can only
infer their motive from their actions. Indeed, lack of economic
opportunities seems to be the primary cause, because the rioters are
breaking into the shops creating economic ‘opportunities’ for themselves!
If anyone seriously wants to examine the issue of economic
opportunities, then they should look at places like Somalia, Ethiopia and
other parts of the world where children are begging or working like
slaves, to support families. They do not have the ‘luxury’ to riot for a
Plasma TV or Nike trainers and they would be more than content with what
we throw away on a daily basis here in the West. If those kids rioted for
basic necessities, that would be a genuine ‘riot’!
So far, we
have inferred their motive from their deeds, but what about deterrence.
Once again, this is another proof that the legal system in the UK is
inadequate in terms of deterring crimes; hence, despite the presence of
CCTV cameras and crowds of people, the looters are destroying property,
and openly committing theft. Even in poverty stricken countries, the
youths do not rampage like this, because the retribution is swift and
Apart from the legal deterrence, values should
prevent such acts from taking place, and that should be the biggest
deterrence. What and where are those values? Everyone moans that parents
and teachers should inculcate moral values in the children, but they are
collectively up against a hostile society, where materialism and greed are
the fuel for its engine. From cradle to grave, the masses are bombarded
with media images and peer pressure for the need to acquire the latest:
gadgets, trainers, clothes, cars. In capitalism greed is a virtue, not a
vice. It is the combination of greed (the culture of materialism), freedom
or lawlessness, coupled with a lack of legal deterrence that has
encouraged the rioters to openly loot.
It is unfortunate that
some are trying to ‘justify’ these criminal acts using the age-old excuse
that the police are racist; they deny the allegation of justification by
stating that they are merely explaining the causes for such criminal
behaviour. If the racism of the police is the cause then the battle should
be with them, and not with the properties and shops.
the outsiders make of this? Responses will vary depending on location and
circumstance. However, most certainly, the citizens of Gaza, Afghanistan
and Iraq will say: like Norway, London and the other cities of the UK are
getting a very small taste of what we have been subjected to for decades,
and this is ongoing. In the US, another gunman struck, killing eight
people and such events are seen frequently. How ironic that after allowing
Islamophobes to tarnish the Muslims with the terrorism brush, the West is
experiencing terrorism directly from Islamophobes and from within, meaning
the non-Muslim section of the population. For now, it has silenced those
venomous snakes that spread anti-Islamic poison.
citizens should not be spectators. They should follow the example of the
Prophet (saw), who created peace between feuding tribes by engaging with
them. There is a responsibility to come forward and engage with the wider
society to create peace and security for all, perhaps open the Mosques and
invite everyone to a constructive dialogue, and in the month of Ramadan,
the least we can do is offer prayers for peace.