Worst of insidious terrorism

23rd Jun 2017
Worst of insidious terrorism

(Photo: Ardfern Creative Commons)

Two heinous terrorist attacks were carried out during the general election campaign but politicians from all parties did not let it derail the political process. A suicide bomber insidiously detonated an improvised explosive device, packed with nuts and bolts to act as shrapnel, at a teenage concert in Manchester and aimed to wreak as much devastation and destruction as possible. It was followed by an equally despicable killing spree on London Bridge by three terrorists using a van and ceramic knives to maximise their slaughter of innocent civilians.

The Muslim News joins in the condemnation of such loathsome and contemptible acts. Like other attacks on the British Parliament, around Europe and elsewhere in the world, the perpetrators have no association with Islam other than in the propaganda falsely claimed by such terrorist organisation as Daesh and their collaborators. It is equally poisonous to even use such labels as “Islamists” or “Jihadis” that, whether intentionally or not, smear the whole of the Muslim community and their religion.

Questions must be asked about the Board of Deputies, proclaimed as the main representative body of British Jews, for causing community division by trying to deviously manipulate the situation after calling on Muslims to “stand up and be counted” after the London attacks. In response, according to the Jewish News, around 100 British Jews from various religious and community organisations wrote an angry open letter accusing its President Jonathan Arkush, who penned the controversial opinion piece, of “fanning the flames of inter-community hatred”. “Just as we as Jews have no responsibility for the actions of Jewish terrorist groups, Muslims are not personally responsible for the actions of groups such as ISIS,” they said.

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, should also be challenged for making similar appeals for Muslim leaders “to take responsibility for countering the claimed religious justification for atrocities committed in the name of their religion”. While admitting there was also a “dark side” to Christianity, he insisted that politicians should not just say “this is nothing to do with Islam” and focus on the security of political aspects of it as it is also an ideological problem.

Disappointingly, Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, also put the onus on his fellow Muslims to end terrorism when agreeing with his Prime Minister, Theresa May, saying enough is enough. “As British Muslims, we rightly condemn terror attacks. But we must go further. It is not enough to condemn. Muslims must challenge too.” He said everyone shared responsibility for tackling terrorism but that there was “a special, unique burden on the Muslim community.” A lasting peace will “only come when young Muslims growing up in Britain decide that this is not their fight and they want no part of it. When they turn their backs on the preachers of hate.”

Despite calls to the contrary, it was revealed that Manchester suicide bomber Salman Abedi was not only known to the country’s security services but that he had also been reported two years ago by a community leader because of concern “he was involved in extremism and terrorism”. Two of his friends were also said to have separately telephoned the police counter-terrorism hotline to express their worries about his behaviour. Similarly, the ringleader of the London terrorists Khuram Butt had also been referred twice to the police by other Muslims over his extremist views but seemingly nothing was done.

The Government was on the defensive during the general election campaign over criticism about the failure of its “war on terrorism” strategy, particularly over the controversial Prevent policy. Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, among others, led the debate not to forget the role played by Britain’s foreign policy in creating terrorism. So many Muslim countries, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, have been left in chaos over misguided military interventions. The political causes can never excuse terrorism but can help to set the context which others, set out by the former MI5 head, Baroness Manningham-Buller, in relation to the Iraq war.

With the result of the election ending in a deadlock, it can only be hoped that it will signal a complete review of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy, including Prevent. There appears to be more of a tone towards consensus politics and trust, which we can only hope, will involve a better relationship with the British Muslim community. The Conservatives like others are seen not knowing answers by itself. It is no longer time for a partisan approach. We must do better.

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