15 November 2015

Özil and Giroud discuss the terror attacks in Paris...

After an international "friendly" match that turned out to be much tenser, much more terrifying than anyone had planned, it came down to two players from two countries all too often pitted against each other to try to make some kind of sense of it all. Olivier Giroud, the Frenchman, turned to Mesut Özil, the Turkish German Muslim, to try to make sense of it all. What follows is an imagined conversation that attempts to explore a bit of history and psychology...

     "Ya, Ollie?"
     "This is some difficult thing, yes?"
     "You are Muslim. Tell me what this is."
     Özil paused. His eyes, which see so much, scanned the horizon. He swallowed. "This is not Islam."
     "What is it, then?"
     Özil locked eyes with Giroud. "I do not know. They will say this is jihad, but it is not so. It is not jihad to kill and destroy randomly. These poeple, these innocents who died, they should not die. Jihad asks us to struggle with ourselves to become good Muslims, to encourage others to do the same. It is not jihad to murder."
     Giroud looked at his teammate. It was clear that both men were shaken."Maybe France should not take so many refugees? It is maybe better for us to turn them away. One of these attackers, maybe he pretended to be a refugee?"
     Özil's gaze turned to the floor. "I do not know. There was that passport. France and Germany have opened their arms to refugees. They are not Hungary. There are so many refugees who flee this mindless violence, thousands and millions even. They leave Syria and Iraq where there is everyday murder and death and war."
     "Look at us, Nemo. You are German. I am French. We play in England."
     "What is your point?"
     "Can you name for me three countries who have gone to war with each other more than these?  Here we are now. You and I, we play for an English club whose name it comes from an armory that made weapons that injured or killed Germans and French."
     "And its name is from Arabic!"
     "Yes. Arsenal. It is from dar as-sina'ah, which is meaning 'house of manufacture, house of skill.'"
     "Sacre bleu!"
     "Still, I cannot stop feeling we should turn these refugees away. You were not there; you do not know the fear in that moment." Giroud gazed skyward as if in supplication.
     "These ISIS, they do not represent Islam. They do not believe something, they believe nothing! They are not Muslims, they are not Islamist, they are nihilists! This is violence for the sake of violence. nothing more."
     "Maybe it is because our governments support the rebels who fight Assad?"
     "Why then is there a Russian plane to go down from Egypt and kill all on-board?"
     "I don't know..."
     "They are cowards. They target innocent, defenseless people. I...I—" The German's face fell into his hands.
     Giroud, at a loss for words, put his arm around his teammate. "Maybe our countries should have not gotten involved. It is after all why this ISIS attacked?"
     "I don't know, Ollie. How do you fight hate? With more hate? My family is Turkish Muslims, we come to Germany, we are accepted. Love breeds love. Germany is my home. I know its history, is painful, ya?"
     "Oui, je comprends. Still, it is hard in these moments to stay calm. to stay compassionate. Part of me says we must seek retribution and revenge. A big part."
     "This is I think their plan. They attack and kill, we retaliate. Both are blind. They want us to. They need us to. It is their lifeblood, this cycle."
     "Yes. These nihilists seek martyrdom, but one can only die for a belief if they believe in something in the first place. They believe in nothing but mayhem. Let us respond with love, with compassion, with solidarity! They are nothing in the face of these. Nothing! Rien!"
     Özil paused. He looked up at Giroud. "Not quite. They are still people, still human. Somewhere. I have to believe this. Do you see??
     It was Giroud's turn to swallow hard. "Yes. Something has poisoned them. Something has warped their minds, but somewhere in there, they are still humans."
     "I have to believe that there is some cure. something other than more violence, to treat this. There is an antidote...isn't there?"
     "There must be."