This photo might a bit explain the ‘yob’ culture Britain is currently facing. Obviously, I am referring the guy at the back (or right) not the one at the front who became a Prime Minister later. Some people call these young kids ‘hoodies’ as they usually wear hoodies as a sign of ‘coolness’ (or a face cover from the CCTV cameras as seen in the UK riots this week).
The incident took place during David Cameron’s visit to a council estate in Manchester, more than 4 years ago, to discuss gun culture within the youth! The teenage made a gun gesture towards David Cameron behind his back, ‘on-high’, full of confidence and other stuff in his other hand. He was later charged with drugs offences.
I personally witnessed abuses in town centres and night buses from drunk or otherwise youth, simply because innocent people dared to complain or even look towards them in the bus while making noise. What about happy slapping? if you have not heard how yobs film people they proudly beat, check this video. This youth culture is a result of failures on both the state and the parents sides. As one rioters put it during a Sky News interview: ‘…it’s about games and fun’, while other one said: ‘I’m watching TV on my new plasma, Christmas came early this year’.
The state should be dealing with the reasons of the problem and not the symptoms. The reasons lie specifically in the fact that certain areas are less socially privileged in terms of employment and education. on the other hand, parents have a certain role to play in this, but the problem is exacerbated when they are not ‘qualified’ to play this role, because of the ‘state-related-reason’ mentioned above! The recent spending cuts of the British government, specially in its welfare offerings are not helping at all. People really got angry when they knew their child or housing benefits will be reduced (although impact is still due to take effect). Many trade unions went on strike too in last year as a protest against the different types of cuts.
This week’s UK riots causes have roots in the social injustice these people are living with, but I can never justify looting a 42″ Plasma TV, or some bottles of wine and ‘ciggies’ (check photo). There should be some moral boundaries here, although I understand that when you do these actions, you probably feel you have nothing to loose.
Although the 2011 riots seem the biggest of all, but let’s not forget this is not first time UK faces such riots. it happened in 1981 due to racial tensions, in 1990 against the Poll Tax, in 2007 against the G20 summit, 2010 the Students riots and many others. Moreover, this country is plagued with football hooliganism with endless examples, with the riots intensity relative the alcohol rates in their rioters bodies.
Anyway, I thought the above background is relevant before putting these riots in the perspective of the ongoing Arab Spring; on the blogosphere level, there was some strange sympathy with the riots (unless you are an anarchist). Some bloggers tried to resemble what happened in Britain to what happened in Egypt this year, when the youth took to the streets to topple their dictator Hosni Mubarak. I think these bloggers were carried away with the ‘Arab Spring spirit’, with a sense of ‘comradery’ and probably little knowledge of the UK social problems; a poor in the UK is richer than the poor in Egypt, with relatively more help from the state. Plus Egyptians were calling for basic human rights, and didn’t burn and loot their local shops on a global scale. Same in Syria where protesters are facing live fire from the security forces, and as far as I know, they are not looting their local markets, and burning down their neighbours cars and properties.
However on the Middle East governments level, the reaction to the riots took a sillier twist with totalitarian regimes calling the UK police to avert using violence, and start ‘dialogue’ with the ‘protesters’ etc. What started as satirical comments on social media turned up to be an opportunity for some countries to pick on Britain in reference to these riots, with really some plain wacky comments. These countries were Iran, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, Zimbabwe and China. Note that all of them have ‘great’ records in human rights. Playing the game, Britain responded that they are happy to involve human organisation in monitoring their actions (but still a good idea to push for that anyway!).
Although until yesterday, UK police were still debating if they want to use water cannons or not, these regimes were happily using live cannons with full ammunition against their people when they protested for freedom. In the UK, they arrest rioters (although the judiciary process seems tough and unfair), and don’t shoot them on a full scale, and their Independent Police Complaints Commission investigates whether the police has breached the laws in any way, as curretly happening. The UK police has just been powers to uncover masked faces if they suspect criminal activities (imagine they didn’t have powers to do that).
The main reason the UK riots hasn’t much to do with the Arab Spring is that the people taking to the streets are called rioters, while they are called protesters in the Arab Spring.