Open letter to Islamic extremists

Dear
Islamic, fundamentalist extremist,
I
know with your bombs you hope to terrorise and scare people. When you attacked
the Taj Palace Hotel and other places in Mumbai back in 2008 I bet you hoped to
attack India, scare people away from the country, city and that big, expensive
hotel. Your other bombs and threats tried to do the same.

It didn’t work.

I
normally don’t stay in places like the Taj. But I’ve come to Mumbai to stay in that hotel because I am not scared by you. I will drink alcohol here and wear a skimpy bathing suit in
the pool. I might even have a bacon cheeseburger. They’ll be the best swim, gin
and burger I’ve ever had, because they will be a statement of defiance at you.
Another
thing Mr. Extremist. Who do you think you are bombs hurt anyway? Not India.
This country is still growing economically and growing in its resilience to
your fear tactics.
Not
the USA… People still go to visit the ‘Great Satan’ and don’t think less of
THEM for your attacks. Lord knows the mighty USA does a good enough job of
trashing its reputation all on its own and doesn’t need your help. Don’t
believe me? Then think GFC, George W and Don Rumsfeld. Even Dick Cheney shoots
his own hunting mates.
So
who are you hurting with your attacks?
Well
Mr Extremist, you who attacked the Taj came from Pakistan. Your attacks made
people think less of Pakistan. You made more people label all Pakistanis
wrongly as extremists. You make people think your religion is one of war and
hate.  Was that smart? Was that creating an accurate reflection of your
country, your people and your religion?
Mr.
Extremist, I spent 2 ½ years in your country from 2005-2008. I worked for the
UN then helping your country recover from the devastating 2005 earthquake. In
this time I saw Pakistanis working tirelessly for each other showing the real
spirit of Islam. I saw true heroes who helped keep 3 1/32 million people alive
through a  Himalayan winter. I saw 1
million tents distributed, 400,000 emergency shelters built and I saw a very
different Pakistan from the image you create.

See here a video on how the Pakistan Earthquake relief was conducted.


In
the 2 ½  years I spent in Pakistan I
found great friendly people who are devout followers of the Prophet (PBUH). I
found people of compassion and love. I found people of learning and curiosity
who are true inheritors of the religion that gave us astronomy, the number zero
and great architecture. 
And
these devout people whom I met, who became my friends, may not share my love of
gin and tonic nor bacon cheeseburgers, nor my atheistic view on religion, but
they respect my right to have a different view from them, as I respect their
right to have a different view from me.

Watch a video on Pakistan the fun bits!


Yet
when my friends want to come to visit me in Australia, getting visas is hard.
When they want to travel abroad to learn, think and experience, getting visas
is hard. When the want to start businesses or encourage investment into
Pakistan, gaining access to international banking and finance is hard. When
they want to teach the word of the Prophet (PBUH) to non-believers, your hate
has made it hard.
All
this is hard for THEM, devout followers of the Prophet (PBUH), because YOU have
made it hard with your screwed up manipulation of texts and your naivety and
ignorance of the religion you falsely claim to serve.
So
Mr. Extremist, you don’t hurt the USA with you attacks. You certainly don’t
hurt Israel. But you do hurt people who believe in the religion that you betray
by your hate. So rich with sarcasm I say to you ‘well done son, well done’.
And
what has your hate made me do? Am I living in fear of you? 
No.
Your
hate has made me come to a city for no reason other than to stay in a hotel I
really can’t afford, just to stick my finger up at you. And now we begin the
holy month of Ramadan. So to my friends Fawad, Rasti, Mariam, Waqar, Mushtaq,
Farooq, Nadeem, Javed, Ali and others, I wish you Eid Mubarak. I will eat a
burger at sunset to break the fast with you if not in person then in sprit. I
will raise a non-alcoholic beverage to you and 
toast you and your kind, the true inheritors of Islam. 
And
to the extremists, I will get stuck into my gin and tonic and my bacon
cheeseburger while wearing my skimpy swim-suit around the pool you wanted me to
be afraid of, I say: ‘screw you’.

Andrew
MacLeod is a former high level UN official who was Chief of Operations for the
UN response to the 2005 Kashmir Earthquake. He is the author of ‘A Life Half
Lived’ from New Holland Press and can be followed on twitter @andrewmmacleod


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