The Riots: Is it Poverty or Greed?

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 ‘adequate’.

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.

What will 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.

The Muslim 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.