BY JAMILA RIZVI
Scared is the wrong word.
I don’t feel scared, more like anxious. It’s that sensation of having eaten a chip and not quite having chewed enough, so it’s grated my throat on the way down.
I go about my day. I forget that uncomfortable feeling for a few minutes or even hours at a time. But then I walk past a television screen, glance at my Facebook feed or hear the murmur of “is this really happening here?” conversations and suddenly – the anxiety returns.
This morning we woke to the news that police raids across Sydney and Brisbane had foiled terrorist plots, one which included executing a random member of the Australian public. A terror cell allegedly planned to abduct an innocent person in Sydney’s Martin Place, drape them in an Islamic State flag and behead them on camera.
Sydney’s Martin Place. Where the alleged beheading was going to take place (via Sydney Council)
Recent widely publicised cases involving the beheading of journalists and aid workers abroad, show that Islamic State appears to favour this highly theatrical brutality. They favour it because this barbaric style of murder captures the attention of those living in democratised nations; in a way that the use of modern weapons does not.
A beheading reminds us of a time that we naively believed the world moved beyond. It is an ancient and uncivilised action, seemingly unguided by any modern understanding of fairness, law, order or justice. Add to this, the randomness of a planned attack on an unsuspecting member of the Australian public going about their ordinary business… and no wonder so many of us are feeling unsettled and nervous.
Because this is a time when the contrasting images of our imaginations, and our real life experiences, do not compute.
Martin Place with its busy office workers grabbing a sandwich, shoppers pointing excitedly to window displays and buskers putting on a show for a few gold coins and some applause… and the sound of a sword severing a human head?