Britain’s Prime Minister Denounces Violent Responses to Wednesday’s Brutal Knife Attack

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Lee Thomas / Demotix / Corbis

An EDL supporter speaks to the media in response to the killing of a man by earlier in the day in Woolwich, London, on May, 22, 2013.

British Prime Minister David Cameron this morning denounced right-wing riots and attacks on mosques as “knee-jerk responses” to the brutal knife attack apparently committed by two men on a London street yesterday as the attack was still being investigated. After an emergency meeting of COBRA, the government’s crisis response committee, Cameron issued a statement in which he emphasized that “This was not just an attack on Britain – and on our British way of life. It was also a betrayal of Islam – and of the Muslim communities who are give so much to our country.”

Hours after news broke that a man believed to be a British soldier had been attacked and killed by two men wielding meat cleavers and knives in London, right-wing extremists had taken to the streets. More than 100 activists from the far right-wing group, the English Defense League (EDL), demonstrated in Woolwich, the area of London where the attack occurred, in retaliation to the perceived Islamic-extremism that allegedly prompted the attack.

Details about the two assailants – who were both shot by armed police officers who arrived on the scene 20 minutes after the heinous attack and are currently under arrest at the hospitals where they are being treated – were still scant the morning after the attack. Government and police statements had indicated early on that they regarded the crime as an act of terrorism. Adding to the horror was disturbing footage taken at the scene of the crime that revealed one of the alleged attackers, covered in blood and still holding a bloodied meat cleaver and knife, discussing the attack. “We swear to you, by the almighty Allah, we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone,” he’s heard to say on the film.

(MORE: Man Hacked to Death on Busy London Street)

The video and the subsequent fear likely prompted the leader of the EDL, Tommy Robinson, to send out a request via Twitter for “feet on the streets” of Woolwich – a request that many heeded. As the crowd in Woolwich grew on Wednesday night, with some protesters wearing balaclavas and others throwing glass bottles, police in riot gear attempted to quell the disturbance.

Elsewhere in Britain, separate attacks on mosques were reported. A man in Essex was arrested on suspicion of possession of a weapon and attempted arson, after allegedly walking into a mosque with a knife. A mosque in Kent was also reportedly vandalized and a man was arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage.

But amidst the anger and fear that surrounded the attack on Wednesday, an unlikely hero emerged. A widely-circulated photograph showed one of the first bystanders on the scene, Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, as she bravely approached the alleged attackers in order to prevent more carnage. A 48-year-old mother-of-two and a cub scout leader, Loyau-Kennett was on a bus that stopped as the scene in Woolwich was unfolding. She quickly got off the bus to see if she could be of any help to the man on the ground, before she gently confronted the other men at the scene.

Loyau-Kennett described approaching one of the alleged attackers – before turning to his partner — in an interview with the Guardian:

“He said it was a war and if the police were coming, he was going to kill them. I asked him if that was a reasonable thing to do but it was clear that he really wanted to do that. He talked about war but he did not talk about dying and then he left to speak to someone else. I went to speak to the other man who was quieter and more shy. I asked him if he wanted to give me what he was holding in his hand, which was a knife but I didn’t want to say that. He didn’t agree and I asked him: ‘Do you want to carry on?’ He said: ‘No, no, no.’ I didn’t want to upset him and then the other man came back to me. I asked him what he wanted to do next. At that point, there were so many people around that I didn’t want him to get scared or agitated. I kept talking to him to keep him occupied.”

Meanwhile, local Woolwich residents – still reeling from the yesterday’s events – are waiting for answers. One resident, Eugene Osioh had just finished work at a local supermarket when his sister called him to tell him the news of the attack. “It’s unbelievable,” says the 31-year-old, who lives in the district, a few minutes’ walk from where the attack happened. “It’s a quiet neighborhood. I never thought something of this magnitude would happen. It’s very, very shocking – this place is peaceful.”

Click here to read Catherine Mayer’s in-depth TIME International cover story on British Prime Minister David Cameron, available exclusively for TIME subscribers.

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26 comments
valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

to jerry 48

ssssssss I already know al of that......he was also a toubador......you...are a cretin....

            valentine, comedian....lol

pakbowie
pakbowie

I remember the other day when someone posted on twitter that "Muslims view "Islamic" terrorists the same way Christians view the Westboro Baptist Church". Damn, I really wish this was the case.

valentine.godoflove
valentine.godoflove

IT IS TIME FOR THE BRITISH TO DRAW ON THEIR BRAVE ANCESTRY AND HISTORY TO DRIVE THESE MOSLEM INVADERS AWA F AWAY FROM THEIR LAND.......WHERE ARE THE BRAVE BRITISH OF ISANDHALWANA?........THE SEPOY REBELLION?

            WHERE ARE THE BRAVE KNIGHTS OF ENGLAND....DESCENDANTS OF RICHARD THE LIONHEART, HENRY II, ET

ORGANIZE AND FIGHT FOR YOUR LAND !!!!!!!!!!!!

valentine, world historian

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

The response from Prime Minister Cameron shows the real qualities of a true Statesman! It is this classy manner of dealing with thughs, getting away with murder, that is often misused by fanatical Muslims. It is truly a great shame that the entire Islamic Peoples will be impacted by such acts of barbarism. It is hard to question Governments around the world taking steps to safegaurd against this type of Jihad culture, which undoubtedly will impact every Muslim. Mullahs preaching martyrdom in the Mosques are as guilty as these two Killers and the world cannot simply treat this as an Islamic problem. It is everyone's problem and we will all live in fear if we do not confront this lunacy, marketed as 'true Islam'

PuritaFleschhut1
PuritaFleschhut1

One way to safeguard our country is to close our shores to all Allah worshiping  infidels from coming in and any family whose members are proven terrorists should be thrown out from the country, their British passports regardless.

notLostInSpace
notLostInSpace

Another great day for religious nut cases.  And if you think that only Muslims have done crazy stuff in the name of religion you have not been paying attention.   Gotta give them credit for having a lot of patience and deep memories of the thousands of years of abuse they have had.  Still, why can't they stay in their home countries?  Can't find enough infidels to behead there?   What part of Britain, France, America even remotely remind  Muslims of their homeland?  If they are coming for opportunities they should drop the religious fever at the border, or do they really like crapping in their own bed?  And if it is a small group doing all the trouble then they should learn quickly how to route the bad ones out.  People are losing their tolerance.

Aduki
Aduki

Islam is the purest form of evil know to man, always was always will be.

bryanfred1
bryanfred1

Well at least Cameron that the obligatory "religion of peace" nonsense into his statement.

nuthatch
nuthatch

hacked to death in broad daylight in the name of allah. why weren't these savages killed by the police on the spot? the tax payer will now have to pay for their hospitalisation and life-long incareration. where's the sense in that?

jhoughton1
jhoughton1

This is precisely the goal and ambition of terrorism: to foment violence and disorder in the target society. We have played into their hands over and over, by looting our treasuries to invade their countries, by accepting life in a paranoid security state, by hating them right back instead of following the teachings of our own religion.  Why do we insist on letting them win?

paulgeorges
paulgeorges

"He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword Koran sura XVIII verse 60:. 'If we wanted, we would put the Angels ...." Rengaine your sword all those who will use the sword will perish by the sword."Live by the sword, die by the sword" is a saying derived from a biblical parable to the effect that if you use violence, or other harsh means, against other people, you can expect to have those same means used against you; "You can expect to become a victim of whatever means you use to get what you want."

jerry48
jerry48

@valentine.godoflove  " WHERE ARE THE BRAVE KNIGHTS OF ENGLAND....DESCENDANTS OF RICHARD THE LIONHEART " well RICHARD was born in France, lived most of his life in France, could barely speak english, spent no more than 6 months in England and died in France ! RICHARD was fierce and cruel during the crusade ! he lived by the sword and died by the sword ! in short RICHARD was a mean Norman ! WRONG EXAMPLE ! not good from a " world historian " ! LOL !


bryanfred1
bryanfred1

Across history, your second sentence is correct.  But Muslims sure seem to have cornered the modern-day market.

PuritaFleschhut1
PuritaFleschhut1

@bryanfred1  Is Cameron speaking for Islam or for the poor, dead victim? Most likely he doesn't have the guts to point out to those Allah worshiping infidels the hideousness of the crime perpertrated by one of their own. The poor guy was hacked to death in broad day light but the way he talked showed more consideration to the muslim infidels than to the victim and his family. How disappointing!

bryanfred1
bryanfred1

Oops

-- got that -- obligatory...

LesMoore
LesMoore

@jhoughton1 Christianity is illegal in China, but you don't see Chinese Christians hacking their countrymen to death while shouting, "Leave us alone."

traderjim7
traderjim7

The koran is garbage!!  We don't want to hear quotes from pervert mohammed out of a book of evil.

MayaM
MayaM

@PuritaFleschhut1 @bryanfred1 You keep saying "Allah worshiping infidels" and i'm not sure you know what that means. Allah is an Arabic word which translates into God. So, essentially, you're calling them "God worshiping infidels."

BargBin
BargBin

@jhoughton1 @LesMoore 

They invaded Tibet, but there are not much terrorism coming from Tibet  It is not correct to compare totalitarian regime with democracy. We democratic  country invade somebody (BTW, I don't support it) there are still elections and religious freedom. Not in totalitarian countries.