The walk must have been a mile from the subway station to the Maracanã Stadium. On route, there was an armed guard every 100 yards or so, observing every spectator walking through what must have been the most heavily guarded public road in the world that day.
Not that I found this intimidating, I felt reassured if anything. Behind the soldiers, a tank or army vehicle. Behind that, a deserted residential area with what I can only assume were snipers or security with an advantageous view, standing on the roofs of high rises. It’s fascinating listening to debates regarding terror. Listening to apologists telling me that the threat isn’t enough for me to discuss religion. I found it hard to consider this opinion whilst walking through the Brazillian armed forces. I wasn’t going into war, just the opening ceremony of Rio 2016.
Look at the drastic measures needed to keep us safe. Admittedly, this was a huge event. It could be argued that such a presence would be necessary regardless of what age we are in and the societal problems that manifest, however as Manchester is a couple of hours drive from me, I wouldn’t be surprised to see armed police walking around my city today. I have seen such measures taken after similar events Europe, today will be no different.
Last night, as I am sure you are aware, there was a suicide bombing during a concert in Manchester. Multiple deaths, many more injuries. I know a girl that attended, thankfully she posted on Facebook of her safety shortly after the incident. As much as I tried to prevent it, I glanced at the continuous posts related to the incident and got exactly what I expected. It always seems to be one of two extremes. ‘Extremes’ may be a little extreme, feel free to let me know of your opinion.
On one hand I see a lot of sympathy towards religion and believers, highlighting that many Muslim taxi drivers helped escort people to safety and that if all Muslims wanted death, we would indeed be dead. In the other corner, right wing memes and ‘Close the borders!’ style comments. Can I take a little middle ground? It is hard to stray slightly from the far left without being seen as someone sprinting into the racist/ bigot corner. Can I please talk about the fact that despite the kind actions of theists, theism breeds violence? A danger that is seen as a gateway to paradise for some? A gateway desired by one person that can affect the lives off hundreds, even thousands of people that fatefully cross such a path?
I want to talk about religion and the fact that both good and bad people can read from the same book, only different pages. I want to discuss whether or not such a book is relevant in today’s world. As much as I respect the taxi drivers that turned off their meters to ensure safety was a priority, I want to talk about 21st century life involving terrorists that wake up and feel it is a good day to explode. I want to ask why a criticism of religion is more of a threat to some than the religious minorities killing those that criticise religion.
I do not feel like a bad person for asking such questions, I just think about a world in which our children can attend sporting and music events without the risk of being blown up. If that offends instead of inspiring conversation, then that’s too bad.