How can Hamiltonians respond to acts of terror?
Instead of fearing immigrants, support programs, groups that practise welcomeness
In recent weeks, as news of IS-inspired or IS-planned attacks in Orlando, Bagdad and Nice have landed in newspapers and on TV screens, so too have calls for protective policies. The Donald Trumps and the Newt Gingrichs of the world laud the supposed benefits of anti-Muslim registries, bans and tests. Meanwhile, polls show that a significant number of Canadians share the same thinlyveiled hate of the Trumpian support-base.
In Hamilton, how should we respond to the threat of terrorism? Should we lash out in our fear, or we cower in it? I say neither. Let us instead reach out in love and keep our arms open and welcoming.
Hamilton has a proud history as a home for many cultural communities. These communities can be engaged members of Hamilton’s community and maintain cultural identities from across the world.
Experts point to a lack of identity and welcomeness when studying how young Muslims become radicalized and violent. When they feel their culture or identity is not wanted, or is even being actively stamped out, they can respond by joining radical groups who feed them an identity and a purpose. Of course, this is no excuse for the gruesome horrors perpetrated by IS and similar organizations, but an understanding of radicalization is important when confronting the question of what to do next.
What we do next is continue to love and support Hamilton’s Muslim, immigrant, and refugee populations. The National Household Survey from 2011 says 3.7 per cent of Hamilton’s population is Muslim, more than the Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus, and Jews combined. Hamilton has also welcomed almost 1,000 Syrian refugees since December 2015. Perhaps the best ammunition against IS is for them to quickly run out of fighters willing to die for their cause. Hamilton can work hard to ensure that our community is so cared for that no radical fighter ever comes from our city.
Wesley Urban Ministries operates many programs that support immigrants, refugees, and others. Programming for children, seniors, and those without adequate housing or work offers newcomers and underprivileged Hamiltonians a great deal of support and love. Micah House, The Immigrants Working Centre, and the YMCA all provide incredible care to Hamilton’s immigrant and refugee population.
It is also important to mention the good work of Muslim organizations and mosques, like the Muslim Association of Hamilton and Hamilton Downtown Mosque. These two, like many other local churches and places of worship, operate children’s programs, summer day camps, and counselling sessions, all of which contribute to the greater Hamilton community.
If you want to fight IS and defeat hatred, you don’t even have to leave town. Donating your time or money to one of these organizations, and welcoming others with love is the best way forward in the face of terror and fear.
Acts of terror such as in Nice can be combatted by reaching out new Canadians and the disenfranchised to understand them, says Tyler Welch.