Like many of my compatriots, I was alerted yesterday afternoon of a surprise terror attack nearby the Houses of Parliament, where a number were killed, including the attacker himself. Given I tend to be closer to social rather than mainstream media, I was able to follow what was happening by regular updates along with a multitude of reactions. I later followed the live BBC coverage. I will not recap on these matters as these are well covered by various media streams and where there is little dissent regarding the facts.
Yesterday, as I reflected on the events, several thoughts crossed my mind and many of these I suspect will have been shared my many of my friends. Sentiments like “shock”, “horror”, “outrage”, “sadness” and “powerlessness” came to mind. I was impressed by the courageous and compassionate response of those close to the attack, the swift, professional actions by emergency and related services, who performed over and above the call of duty, and the defiant resolve not to be deterred by terrorists. I echo many sentiments and condolences offered by the good and the great, including London mayor, Sadiq Khan, whose comments, I will get to, but in the circumstances showed commendable decorum and leadership.
As I prayed concerning these matters, particularly those affected including the families of the bereaved, before retiring, I wondered how long before the anti-Islamists would need before they made their point that not only was this a terrorist attack (as has been recognized) but it is Islamist in origin. Indeed, one video by Paul Joseph Watson was quick to make that connection and related this to similar attacks elsewhere in Europe that was motivated by radical Islamist ideology. My hope before that happened was we would be able to as a community to show our respects and express our solidarity that terrorist attacks, whatever the motivation, is something we will withstand and support those who are victims. Other links expressing similar sentiments were soon to follow, e.g. asking what some see as a fair question demanding a response: “How much more blood will be spilled?”
Holding back was not to be and I say this with a degree of regret, especially since we still didn’t know who the attacker was and what was his precise motivation and we all need space to mourn. We know he was British born but the extent he was radicalized by Islam, is not yet known. How to avoid is a big question, but I suspect the authorities would rather downplay the Muslim connection because of fear this would incite anti-Islam / Muslim sentiment. When I woke today to find out developments, I came upon one mainstream media report: “Britons are denouncing Donald Trump Jr.’s attack on London’s mayor”. It appears the son is following in his father’s footsteps when he tweeted: “You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan”. Whether or not his tweet was appropriate or he had taken Mayor Khan’s comments made some months back out of context, is not my point, but what the tweet did do was to invite a tirade of attacks, as by Labour MP Wes Streeting, who called Trump Junior a disgrace. But the fact that Sadiq had made that earlier comment which some would say should NOT be part of living in a big city, and his reassurance “all our visitors not to be alarmed — our city remains one of the safest in the world” is noted. While it is possible Khan did not know the Islam connection (I suspect he did), in the light of his earlier “Uncle Tom” comments regarding certain moderate Muslims and his consistent stance not to recognize that there might be a least a problem in dealings with radical Islam, did raise concerns.
This brings me to another post on my Facebook page, by Tommy Robinson, seen by many as a far right extremist. Because I considered he had made a reasonable observation, even if I disliked his tone and disagreed with his conclusion, I decided to share this, prefixing this with a health warning, but as a means of correcting the narrative and hopefully encouraging respectful debate. I was surprised at the strength of sentiment AGAINST what I had posted, which was well intentioned, even though with the benefit of hindsight may not have been well timed. As I pointed out, I have been fighting extremism and Islamophobia most of my life but fear if authorities continue to downplay the threat of Islam then we are opening ourselves up to the likes of Robinson controlling the narrative, and for an increase in hate crime. It seems to me, we need both truth and love. I for one will be supporting my local Imam friend if he or his family were to be threatened. I accept what one adversary said – rather than being taken up with these other matters we need: “to respect and appreciate there are families this morning who are coming to terms with the loss of their loved one”.
Addendum: I take no pleasure in saying this but given the amount of opposition I have received since posting earlier today it is good to be vindicated that I was on the right lines. Firstly, newspaper reports confirm the attacker was a radical Muslim with a criminal record (see here). Secondly, soon after the news broke there has been a significant amount of jubilation from among certain Muslims that the attack was carried out and damage was done (see here). How long, I wonder, will we continue to see: “Jihadi Attack in London, UK Vows to Defend ‘Tolerance“ and, more to the point, how do we stop Jihadi attacks and yet practice tolerance? Already, our politicians are saying religion has no bearing on the subject and more attacks e.g. a thwarted one in Brussels are being seen. Finally, another clip, less rabid, but raising similar concerns.