Terrorist attacks, no matter the target, must be condemned
Latest incident in London, where Muslims were the victims, underlines more than ever the need for tolerance if we are to keep extremists at bay
One of the worst fears – and main aims - of extremist violence against pluralistic societies is that it will spark tit-for-tat attacks and even turn various religious, ethnic and racial groups against one another. Then they end up doing the work of the terrorists in spreading prejudice, suspicion and fear that undermine the tolerance that underpins a stable society. Yesterday’s attack with a van on Muslim pedestrians in London may be a case in point.
In recent months, Britain has suffered three fatal terrorist attacks on innocent, random victims, including last month’s suicide bombing of a Manchester concert arena that killed 22, all linked to Islamic State. Far from stirring division, they seemed to have strengthened unity in adversity, as evidenced by the shared grief and solidarity after the deadly fire in a high-rise block of flats in London last week killed scores of people.
In the early hours of yesterday morning, however, came the event that security officials dreaded. A van mounted a pavement and ploughed into Muslim worshippers who had just left evening prayers at a nearby north London mosque after breaking the Ramadan fast, killing one man and injuring eight. Police were treating it as a “potential terrorist attack” and called in anti-terror officers, while the Muslim Council of Britain said the van intentionally ran down worshippers in a “violent manifestation of Islamophobia”. A 48-year-old man was arrested after being detained by bystanders.
Sadly, indiscriminate hatred towards Muslims is the inevitable fallout of attacks linked to Islamic State. One person who was not surprised at yesterday’s incident is Fiyaz Mughal, founder of a an organisation that monitors anti-Muslim incidents, who said that after recent attacks in Manchester and London there had been very big surges in hatred towards Muslims, which were common after terror incidents. It would be a leap backwards in tolerance and security if these spikes were to become a springboard for violent reprisals. It is time for everyone, of all faiths, to come together. After all, not only do terrorists not respect race or religion, but turning their members against each other serves their purpose.