We understand that the continuing conflict in Iraq and the civil war in Syria have the potential to be used to promote sectarian violence in the United Kingdom and whilst the chances of real unrest are extremely low, there is a sense in some small localities in the UK that there are existing lines drawn on who supports which group in the Middle East. These feelings are not aired and largely split down a Shia and Sunni divide in the conflict in Syria and therefore bubble underneath the surface.
What is clear from situations, as in Rwanda, is that ethnic and religious differences, can within a storm of certain conditions, give rise to small scale or larger scale conflicts and even genocide. We are also aware that certain cable channels are beaming into living rooms globally that promote vicious sectarianism and nothing can really be done about these channels since they are based in the Middle East and many are independently run. This ‘free run’ into the homes of viewers in the UK is one potential source of young people absorbing the narratives of division and hate.
We will continue to keep a watching brief on the situation and in the meantime, we should all remain vigilant against those who seek to divide, caricature and bestialize groups of people based on elements of their identities.