Finally, “Jihadi John” has been unmasked. He is Mohammed Emwazi, a Kuwaiti-born UK citizen. He was known to his teachers as a loner; a hard-working pupil who achieved the required grades to get into University. Mohammed performed relatively well at University – he passed all his modules and graduated with a lower second class degree. Mohammed has then secured employment as an IT consultant. His former employer describes him as “the best employee they ever had”. Since then, Mohammed has joined the (un)Islamic State (ISIS), and turned into a barbaric international terrorist and throat-slitter. ISIS play him like a piano for propaganda purposes. Since his exposure, Mohammed has enjoyed a great deal of media coverage, in all the analysis we have yet to decipher his influences and motivation that turned this young man who wasn’t a huge societal concern into a monstrous being.
Many Muslim men share his first name, and like him, many have migrated to, settled in, and have graduated in the UK. Unlike Mohammed Emwazi many contributed and continue to contribute significantly and positively in the UK. An overwhelming number of them condemn terrorism of any sort and have no desire whatsoever to join an extreme and odious political group that has nothing to do with Islam. Unfortunately, and I fear inevitably; the coverage of Mohammed Emwazi will have a detrimental impact on the rest of the Mohammed’s living in the UK. I foresee; for example, those unable to critically process information exploiting prima facie the Mohammed Emwazi case. Predictably, the Pegida type, the likes of the (luckily) now former UKIP councillor with “a problem with negroes” and her friends who enjoy racism will try to gather support by pointing out that all Mohammeds are the same – they benefit from our immigration and education systems to fight against us! This group will undermine the important role British Muslims play in the UK and the West. They will instead focus on the very few “bad apples” to paint all Muslims and immigrants with the same brush, in order to satisfy their hateful prejudices.
In order to address this worrying and unhappy trend, at a time when community relations are volatile and crimes of racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic nature are on the rise, the media and our leaders have a fundamental role to bring people together and report the news responsibly. Ideally, one would hope that we learn from our past. Imperialism and colonialism utilised successful ‘divide and rule’ tactics to physically and mentally destroy indigenous populations. Furthermore, the only way extremists are able to benefit is by installing an ‘us and them’ mentality at the micro and macro level. Therefore, while it is important to responsibly report on Mohammed Emwazi, it is also key to keep in mind the numerous Mohammed’s who abhor his actions; and it is equally fundamental to foresee how this could be exploited by certain extreme right groups. It has been said that ISIS uses Mohammed Emwazi as a piano on which to play their propaganda. I am sure Mohammed Emwazi will be used by the extreme right groups to compose a bad taste piano piece. Regardless, we should not dance to their tunes.