Monday the 22nd of May will be forever marked by the appalling events which led to the deaths of 22 people and the injury of 120 more. As the scene of the attack was a pop concert, most of these casualties were young people or children.
As heinous as this was, it is important to remember what fuels fanatic extremism: Fear and hatred. Attacks like the one in Manchester are designed to terrorise and kill, but also serve to breed hatred in our minds and hearts; specifically, and undeservedly towards Islam. Groups like ISIS are fully aware of this, as disenfranchised Muslim youths are key targets for recruitment and radicalisation.
The social backlash, at times physical and violent, against Muslim communities in the wake of attacks is unfortunately not unheard of. Dr Naveed Yasin, an NHS surgeon, worked round the clock for a total of 48 hours in an effort to save the victims of the Manchester arena blast. While travelling to work after a rest between the strenuous shift, he was racially abused on the street, having racial slurs yelled at him and being called a terrorist. All based on the colour of his skin alone.
Furthermore, an important political election is to take place on the coming months in the UK, with immigration and border control some of just a few key topics to be addressed in party manifestos. It is my fear that people will allow their vote to be tainted by the anger and hatred that follows after such a cowardly attack like the one in Manchester. It is important that we not allow ourselves to the depths of our own loathing and rage. The attack was carried out by an extremist group, who do not speak for the peaceful faith of Islam.
There are still thousands of refugees who are still in peril in Syria and its neighbouring territories. People who have themselves experienced similar travesties like the one in Manchester at the hands of extremists; losing children, brothers and sisters, friends. Another doctor who worked tirelessly to help the victims of the Manchester attack, one Mounir Hakimi – a national of Syria himself, would go on to compare the wounds he treated in Manchester to those of refugee’s wounded in the Syria civil war. Like us, refugees in Syria are caught in the violence of extremism.
Extremists are counting on western cultures, especially Europe, to close their borders and shun refugees out of fear. We must endeavour to rise above hate and continue to help each other.
May 14th to the 20th marks National Women’s Health week, an American campaign led by the US Department of Health and Human Serviced – Office on Women’s Health, which is designed to raise understanding for women of all ages on how to attain a better quality of life. The campaign informs women of a few simple life style changes and reasonable goals to aid them in becoming healthier and more active.
On the other side of the world, the Syrian Civil war drags on through its sixth year with the Refugee Crisis in tow. Women of this country, be they displaced or not, face a series of health issues. Leading a healthy lifestyle is something that could easily be considered a luxury, one that members of more disenfranchised or underprivileged societies such as Syria are not privy to. During Woman’s health week, its vital that we try and raise awareness to women. Period.
Many researchers speculate that a mental health crisis is currently in full swing in Syria. A 2015 German study by the German Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists showed that 70 percent of refugee’s spoken to had witnessed violence and 50 percent had been first hand victims (IRIN). Unsurprisingly, emotional and psychiatric issues followed.
In a situation which seems so bleak and oppressive, certain people rise to the occasion to deliver the much-needed health care to women and girls in Syria. Midwife Shatha Al Mostafa for instance, has been a midwife for two years, working amongst the destruction and conflict of Syria, often in placed under bombardment, to deliver much needed health care. Health care for women is primarily administered by midwifes in Syria, especially for any pregnancy related issues. An approximate 360,000 pregnant women and millions more younger girls are effected by the ongoing conflict (UNFPA.org). You can read more about Shatha here:
It’s important that during this challenging time in Syria, and during National women’s health week, that we consider not only the way to improve the physical and emotional health of women here in the west, but also in Syria and other locations rocked by armed turmoil.