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Muslims in Southend and across the UK condemn murder of MP

29th Oct 2021
Muslims in Southend and across the UK condemn murder of MP

Photo: Prime Minister Boris Johnson accompanied by the Leader of the Opposition Sir Keir Starmer, the Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle pay their respects to the Conservative MP Sir David Amess after he was stabbed to death at Belfairs Methodist Church, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on October 15.  (Credit: Andrew Parsons/No 10 Downing Street) Official portrait of Sir David Amess (Credit: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)

 

Harun Nasrullah

Muslim leaders in Southend and across the United Kingdom have denounced the murder of veteran Conservative MP Sir David Amess on October 15. The violent killing was branded “brutal and senseless” in a joint statement issued by all of Southend’s mosques.

The statement published on the Essex Jamme Masjid website said the killing was “an indefensible atrocity” committed in the name of “blind hatred, and we look forward to the perpetrator being brought to justice.”
Sir David, 69, was talking with constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church Hall in the small town of Leigh-on-Sea, east of London when he was stabbed to death.

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, is charged with Sir David’s murder and the preparation of terrorist acts. He appeared at the Old Bailey on October 22 via video-link from Belmarsh prison. A provisional trial date was set for March 7, 2022.
The MP was described as a “tremendous force for good and a pillar of support for our community” by the Joint Secretary of Essex Jamme Masjid Ruhul Shamsuddin.

“This was senseless violence against a truly wonderful man. It’s an honour to say I’ve known him my whole life. I’ve lost not just a community leader, but a family friend and mentor,” Shamsuddin said.

The Imam of UKIM Southend Mosque, Iftikhar Ul Haq and its President, Dr Arshad Ghori, praised Sir David for being “always reachable“ and for his “great compassion for communities.”

They added: “He will be greatly missed by us at the UKIM Southend Mosque and the community in Southend. We strongly condemn this brutal murder and hope the perpetrator will be swiftly brought to justice.”

The statement paid tribute to Sir David’s “warmth, selflessness and kindness,” adding that he had joined the local Muslim community as it celebrated its achievements over the years.

“He graced us with his presence at the opening of the Essex Jamme Masjid in 2008 and 2014. He took part in the launch of Southend-on-Sea’s first Muslim Scout group,” they added.

“He shared in our happiness by attending our weddings and functions, and he was there for us in our times of need. We will all miss him dearly.”

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) paid tribute to Sir David, who it said lost his life “in the course of performing his duties as an MP.”

MCB’s Secretary-General, Zara Mohammed, said, “As more information emerges, and much speculation remains, the MCB’s position is clear in its condemnation of this cold-blooded murder in the strongest possible terms. The perpetrators of this, and similar despicable crimes, should know that there is no justification for murder and the taking of innocent life.”

“The vitality of democracy rests on the accessibility of our elected representatives. Within the past five years, we have witnessed two members of Parliament killed in the course of performing their duties. Those whom we entrust with public office must be able to serve their communities without facing such grave threats to their safety, and so we welcome steps being taken to ensure better security for them. The killers of both Jo Cox MP and Sir David Amess MP are not only united in their total disregard for the sanctity of life, but their desire to sow division in society. We will not let them succeed. “

“Our hearts and deepest condolences continue to go out to Sir David’s wife and children, as well as all his family, friends, colleagues and community members whose lives have been touched by his tireless work.”
The Conservative Muslim Forum also issued a statement in which Sir David’s killing is described as ‘a truly shocking incident, which has left the nation in shock’

The spokesman said, “The Conservative Muslim Forum’s deepest sympathies go out to the family of Sir David Amess. The vitality of democracy rests on the accessibility of our elected representatives. They must be allowed to serve their constituents without threats to their safety. Colleagues from across Parliament expressed their shock and sorrow and paid tribute to Sir David, who held regular meetings with voters on the first and third Fridays of the month, saying he was diligent in his duties to his local area. Sir David leaves behind a wife and five children. Flags in Downing Street were lowered in tribute. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he and his cabinet were “deeply shocked and heart-stricken David was a man who believed passionately in this country and its future, and we’ve lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague,” Johnson said.

The Prime Minister would not say whether the attack meant politicians needed tighter security, saying, “We must leave the police to get on with their investigation.”

The Leader of the Opposition also paid tribute to Sir David’s during a special session in the House of Commons held in memory of Sir David on October 18. Sir Keir Starmer said the Parliament is “united in our grief”. The Labour leader also referenced the 2016 murder of Jo Cox, who was killed in her northern England constituency. A member of the far-right was convicted of her murder.

“We are thinking – once again – of our dear friend Jo Cox, who was killed just five years ago, and I know that Honourable members and their staff will have spent the weekend worrying about their own safety,” said Starmer.
Asserting that “the emotion is the same across the House. But I remember how acutely Jo’s loss was felt on these benches. So today, on behalf of the entire Labour Party, I want to reach across the aisle and acknowledge just how deeply the pain is felt on the benches opposite. Of course, our differences matter, after all, that’s what democracy is about. But today we are reminded that what we have in common matters far more.”

Ian Blackford MP, Leader of the Scottish National Party in the House of Commons, paying tribute to Sir David, said: “We are gathered here united in mourning and grief at the loss of a proud champion of Southend—now to be the city of Southend; a great Back Bencher, a beloved husband and father, and a dear friend to so many, particularly on the Government Benches. Sir David Amess was valued in so many ways, but I think the most powerful description of him was, in some ways, the simplest and most human: David was, above all else, a good and deeply decent man—a man who would always greet you with a welcoming smile whenever you met him.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Sir Ed Davey, said, “The grief, the sadness and the shock that we are all feeling today on the awful loss of Sir David Amess—this collective sorrow—unites us all today. Like the Leader of the Opposition, I want to reach across the aisle and say to every Conservative colleague who knew David much better than many of us on the Opposition Benches, as has been so evident in the brilliant speeches that we have heard: we feel for you.”

Dr Rupa Huq, Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton, recounted her last exchange with Sir David. “This killing was all the more shocking and painful to me because I was certainly the last Labour MP who saw him alive,” she told Parliament.

“It was on that delegation to the Middle East last week at the baggage reclaim area, as it happens. Everyone else had scarpered; everyone else’s stuff had gone. I had missed mine because I had been tying up my shoelaces or something. David said, ‘No, I will wait with you.’ I said, ‘Come on, you’ve got to go to Essex. Be off with you.’ That was the measure of the man and how kind he was. The next day, the last stragglers were saying, ‘We got back. It was a great trip, thank you.’ His was the last WhatsApp message I saw, thanking everyone for their service. How shocking it is that he was taken in service, a public servant slain in the line of duty at his surgery.”

Sir David was Member of Parliament for Southend West, which includes Leigh-on-Sea, since 1997, but was a lawmaker since 1983.

 

Fears for the Somali and wider Muslim communities

 

Former Conservative MP and junior health minister Edwina Currie said she would be “very very frightened right now” if she was of Somali heritage. Speaking to LBC in the wake of Sir David’s death, Currie said she feared for the community “the moment it was announced by the police that they’d arrested somebody that came from Somali heritage.”

She added, “If I were Somali if my parents had been Somali, I would be very very frightened right now because one of the problems of all this is that everybody gets tarred with the same brush, it’s not the right thing to do.
“A small number of dedicated people with warped views of the faith take it upon themselves to murder somebody, and most of the people who get hurt in all these are Muslims. We need to see people are individuals. I think one of our values is the ability to separate people from groups.”

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