Terror in London Sparks Tensions, Upsurge in Islamophobic Attacks

  • Share
  • Read Later
LUKE MACGREGOR / REUTERS

A worshipper leaves the Woolwich Mosque in Woolwich, London, on May 24, 2013

Violence and fear travel swiftly, and faster still in the era of tweets and status updates and 24-hour rolling news. Just after 2 p.m. on May 22, police answered a call to an incident in Woolwich, southeast London. A 25-year-old soldier, Drummer Lee Rigby, leaving the local barracks, had been hit by a car and then hacked to death in front of horrified onlookers. One of his alleged killers, later identified as Michael Adebolajo, linked the attack to the British military presence in Muslim countries. “We must fight them as they fight us, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” he said, waving a bloodied cleaver. Video, filmed by an onlooker, was quickly picked up by news organizations and disseminated on social media.

At 7:15 p.m., a man, reportedly armed with a knife, threw an incendiary device into a small mosque in Braintree, a market town in Essex. At 8:40 p.m., another small mosque in another English market town, Gillingham in Kent, sustained a broken window and damage to a bookcase housing copies of the Koran. Back in Woolwich, the far-right English Defence League (EDL) staged a demonstration against Islam and skirmished with police. In a video posted on the group’s website, its leader Tommy Robinson (also sometimes known as Stephen Lennon and Paul Harris), said “We are at war, and unless you can name the enemy you won’t win that war … The enemy is Islam.” The far-right British National Party is calling for a demonstration against “the wicked and cruel enemy within.”

Since news broke of the Woolwich murder, tensions in Britain have ratcheted up. Scotland Yard has increased the number of officers on patrol. Social-media users were quick to ask whether the May 24 emergency landing of a British Airways jet at Heathrow might be terrorism-related; BA said a technical fault had caused the incident. Mere hours later, Royal Air Force jets escorted a Pakistan International Airlines flight from Lahore away from its intended destination of Manchester, in northern England, to Stansted, near London. Two men were arrested, accused of endangering an aircraft. Shortly after that, one of the capital’s main train stations, London Bridge, was closed amid reports on social media of a man wielding an ax; and the M6 motorway, a main arterial route in central England, was shut while police investigated a suspicious vehicle. There were few details and no clarity yet on any of the incidents, but in the febrile atmosphere after Woolwich, it’s all too easy to see links where there may be none. And there has been an upsurge in small acts of aggression. The Tell MAMA hotline, which normally takes three or four calls a day reporting Islamophobia in various forms, has logged 72 incidents. British Muslims feel “a real endemic fear now,” says Fiyaz Mughal, coordinator of Tell MAMA and a director of an interfaith organization called Faith Matters. “It really is quite deep. Muslims have a fear that their institutions like mosques may be under potential attack. And they have a sense that unfortunately something nasty may happen.”

Brooks Newmark, the Conservative MP who represents Braintree, e-mails that “the tension is palpable especially amongst the Muslim community in our town. They wholly condemned the brutal murder that took place in London only hours before [the mosque attack]. They said the men who carried out the vile acts in London do not represent a vision of Islam that they believe or even recognize. But they are wondering what they can do to heal wounds that they did not cause.” He adds: “We have a small Muslim community in Braintree, who are well integrated. They are shopkeepers, restaurant owners and doctors. They are respected members of our community. There was a sense of shock and disbelief when our small town hit the headlines the same day as the brutal murder of a British soldier by Islamic radicals. How could someone in our community connect the dots between the vile actions of two fundamentalists 50 miles [80 km] away in London with the peaceful small Muslim community in our town?”

That question, about how the dots get connected — and how to stop dangerous distortions emerging when they do — is a key concern for the British authorities as they continue to focus on solving the primary crime, Rigby’s brutal slaying, and to make sure that his murder was not part of a broader terrorist campaign. They have released few details about the two men arrested at the scene of the murder, both of whom have been hospitalized after being shot by police, but the second Woolwich suspect is reported to be Michael Adebowale, a 22-year-old from nearby Greenwich. More information has emerged about Adebolajo, the 28-year-old suspect filmed with a cleaver, and his alleged association with Anjem Choudary, the former leader of al-Muhajiroun. The group came into notoriety in 2003 for organizing an anniversary celebration of the 9/11 attacks and was banned the following year under British antiterrorism legislation. Links between the group and its offshoots and a significant number of British terrorist plots, including the 7/7 bombings in London, coordinated suicide attacks that claimed 56 lives (including the lives of the four bombers themselves), illustrate how easily the contagion of hatred spreads — whether that hatred stems from the misappropriation of the name of Islam or the fear of Islam.

Politicians from Britain’s mainstream parties have joined forces in calling for calm after Woolwich. “After an event like this it is natural that questions will be asked about what additional steps can be taken to keep us safe,” said Prime Minister David Cameron. “I will make sure those questions are asked and answered, but I am not in favor of knee-jerk responses. The police have responded with heightened security and activity, and that is right. But one of the best ways of defeating terrorism is to go about our normal lives, and that is what we shall all do.”

Nigel Farage, leader of the U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), a fringe party whose fast-rising popularity is fueled in part by robust anti-immigration policies, also put out a statement: “I hope and believe that this is an isolated incident and appeal for calm amongst all our communities.” Speaking at a May 24 event at London’s Foreign Press Association, he rejected the suggestion that UKIP’s rhetoric risks feeding the hostilities behind the mosque attacks and far-right protests. He singled out the “cowardice of the British establishment” in failing to curb the influence of radical preachers. “We have been turning a blind eye to hate preachers, turning a blind eye to polygamy, turning a blind eye to Shari‘a law in British cities,” he said. He told TIME that more unrest could be expected from Britain’s far right over the coming holiday weekend. “They’ll all be on the booze. They’ll all be on the streets. It will be ugly,” he said.

There has been no shortage of ugliness on British streets in the past days, and the ugliest moment of all came in Woolwich when a young soldier fell victim to a toxic idea. But the very spot where he died has also sprouted a strange loveliness, as friends and strangers, moved by his story, leave flowers and messages and other tributes. The makeshift memorial, and a quiet determination not to let extremism win the argument, continues to grow.

MORE: After Eden: Norway’s Tragedy Spotlight’s Europe’s Far Right

57 comments
skywizard
skywizard

if islam teach to kill non believers, we in indonesia will definetly 100% moslem...in fact we live peacefull and protect each other...please dont let your govt fool you. you are british so upset and get shoked when your troops die in your own country. Can you imagine how resentment and anger in people's heart who their country occupied by british and british troops kill their family??

Get out from mid east and stop intervene another country, and you all will live in peace.

Umm..OK
Umm..OK

If attacks on Middle Easterners are called Islamophobic, shouldn't the butchering of a Westerner be called Christianophobia or some other such term that implies an irrational mental state?

robolollycop
robolollycop

if any Americans are interested in reading how many Brits are thinking and feeling about this incident (the way the media are not reporting) then please read the blog post below. The media, all over the world, has only and will only ever embellish fear rhetoric. The people in Britain are not afraid, and we do not blame Muslims for two crazy idiots. The only people generalising about Muslims, are the people who were racist before this incident and are using it as a political tool to gain power - the BNP, the EDL and UKIP are all cashing in on horror and fear - but then they did before this horrible event! 

The intelligent majority of British people, are able to disassociate from the media, read more here: 

http://thoughtscratchings.com/2013/05/24/leave-hate-where-it-ended-on-the-end-of-a-bloody-knife-in-woolwich/

KTShamim
KTShamim

You can't blame Islam for how some people follow it 1400 years later. Why not look at the other side of the spectrum?

Muslimsforlife(dot)org - successfully collected 10,000 pints of blood to honor 3,000 dead of 9/11 (by saving 30,000 lives.

Muslimsforpeace(dot)org - condemning terrorism, promoting Islamic value of loyalty to ones nation, peace, bus-ads and flyers and leaflets to promote the same.

love4all(dot)org(dot)uk - We serve humanity in many waysincluding a wide range of activities that provide disaster relief, medical facilities, energy, education and self-help programmes acrossthe world.

Why not look at what the Qur'an teaches?

[Qur'an 5:9] "O ye who believe! be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do."

[Qur'an 4:136]  "O ye who believe! be strict in observing justice, and be witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or against parents and kindred. Whether he be rich or poor, ..."

[Qur'an 16:91] "Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed."

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

Any place ruled under Islam is a backwards hole in the ground... The Saudi's hack off limbs and stone women daily as dose Iran - your peaceful Muslim Capitals galore!

The places run by Islam are places of evil... all faith can do is lead you into blindness as that which can make you believe absurdities can also make you commit atrocities...

Islam has been a disease for over a millennia and has proven a Faith that lives by the sword... by The Christians are just as willing to believe insane BS from a Bronze Age fairy tale rather than science... if they are willing to believe in a magic flood they will also one day find a reason to kill the heretics as they did once before.

Faith is the problem and should be viewed as a handicap instead of a noble virtue

sirigu
sirigu

@Hadrewsky  i think religion is so wonderful. you should think about if today no faith how can everybody lives, how can we pass through so many problem and how make everybody  happy and peaceful. 

and about Islam, we are so simple people, you know that everywhere has bad people and good people ,that is, if this earth haven't got bad people how we know that good people is. 

you should'n hit to religion. You should blame that bad person. While those people are so pity. 

Boston617
Boston617 like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

 Winston Churchill, "The River War" Vol II pp 248-250

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live.

A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyzes the social development of those who follow it.

No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilization of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome."

 Unfortunately few listened to him when he spoke of the evil in Naziism and sadly even fewer when he wrote the above about Islam.

FrancisMulhare
FrancisMulhare like.author.displayName 1 Like

Most of the Muslim immigration to England occurred from the 1950's ,60,s and 70's. I happened to live in England in the 70's and remember being concerned about the influx of people whose vision of society, and religions role in it , was not only so  fundamentally different than the Wests but also very rigid, self-rightous and intolerant. Islam is not Buddhism . If you look a most of worlds hot spots ( Middle-East , Northern Ireland ) the mixing of groups of people with such deeply held differing religious views leads to trouble. It is one thing to find yourself in this situation but another to actually create it ourselves .At least in the 70's in England and Europe there were people who were fairly vocal in their opposition to unchecked immigration but they were ignored . I expressed my views in various forums and was roundly castigated. Hopefully this and other incidents in the past decade or so will wake governments up to the realization that some kind of "ideology check" needs to be performed before immigrants are allowed entry to free democratic societies or these societies may not be free very much longer.

aztecian
aztecian

@FrancisMulhare ideology check...who are you to preach what is true and what is not?  you are afraid of multiculturalism because people don't believe in your ways.  that is fine, but remember the rest of the world and that would be the majority are not westerners.

R-U-SERIOUS
R-U-SERIOUS like.author.displayName 1 Like

I am afraid all of you need to step back and take a look at world history and the History of Christianity in world affairs. The "Holy Roman Catholic Church" under the Popes raised armies to subjugate Europe into not just Christianity but into Catholicism. That wasn't enough for the Catholic Church, they decided that Jerusalem belonged to Christians and while Christians, Jews and Muslims all were getting along just fine there the Crusaders showed up in the first Crusade and murdered all non Christians in Jerusalem, men women and children. That began the war between Christians and Muslims.  (By the Way I am a Christian) When the Moors invaded Spain they allowed the christian churches to continue to function. After the Spanish retook Spain from them the Catholic Church started the "Inquisition" and gave Queen Isabella and King Ferdenan special permission to create the "Spanish Inquisition" on top of that. They along with the regular inquisition proceeded to kill and torture all non Christians, especially Jews and Muslims. 

What I am trying to point out here is our hands are not clean and as it says in our Bible "you shall reap what you sowe." The vast majority of Muslims in the world do not subscribe to the extremes of the radicals and in fact have spoken out against them. If you allow the Governments of the Democracies to monitor the muslims then what is stopping them from monitoring the Christian and Jewish religions because of the extremist in both of those religions. It is a slippery slope! 

The problems that developed around Religion developed as they became "organized religions" organized religion does not bring us together it only serves to separate us one against the other. 

What should happen is Christian, Jews and Muslim leaders should form a coalition to speak out against extremism in all religions and they should scream louder then the radicals do and more often. That will inspire the rank and file to speak out and take action to quell the radicals.


mexuscanstamps
mexuscanstamps

@R-U-SERIOUS The inquisition was a reaction of aggressive attacks and spread of Protestants. Many British Catholic martyrs in the world, Thomas More among others. When Muslims attacked Christian sites, invaded Jerusalem, and started advancing into other Christian towns in Europe, that is when the Christian world reacted.  Spain was the only country that I know that resisted and successfully repealed Islamic invasion. Constantinople fell to Islam, Northern Africa fell to  Islam, some of the Caucasian regions fell to Islam, Italy in Otranto was attacked but Islamic invaders failed.

Moors did not "allow" other religions to function, that is a lie. They either they killed or convert to Islam, In their eyes your are an infidel that need to be converted to their "true" God. 

I do not think you defend your faith, because you do not have faith in God. You live in your cozy socialist life.

mexuscanstamps
mexuscanstamps

It means  nothing to you that a man, a British citizen, rammed with a car and hacked to pieces by some Muslims converts. Yeah, you must be thinking it's the West's  fault. Eye for an eye, yeah.Christians and others are infidels, they are pigs. Only Muslims are blessed, otherwise they can go to hell.

aztecian
aztecian

@mexuscanstamps the best you can do is right wing fear mongering?

mexuscanstamps
mexuscanstamps

@aztecian @mexuscanstamps Please go to Pakistan or Afhganistan and see if you have the same liberties like ours. Try to show your crucifix on the streets of Dubai or Bahrain or Saudi or try to bring your Bible and tell me if that it was all good. Islam is not a religion of peace. I will still defend my religion and culture. Puedo decir mas pero me aburres por tu estupida ignorancia.

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

@aztecian

Saudi Arabia and Iran are backwards sewers because of Islam.

Faith is a disease. That which makes you believe in absurdities can also make you commit atrocities. 

aztecian
aztecian

@mexuscanstamps @aztecian you're just a fear mongering bigot who lumps the bad of a few on the majority of the good.  you need to quit with the right wing fear mongering.  move one, progress, see the light!

mexuscanstamps
mexuscanstamps

Catherine, you know that is a fact that the mosques are there to convert non-muslims? Don't you know? Christianity is under attack. You should read some history.

Joe_Smith
Joe_Smith

I am amazed and alarmed that the politicians (and by extension, the citizens) of Great Britain, have allowed so many immigrants into their country from Muslim countries.  The politicians have sold your citizens down the river and you all have allowed this to happen.  It won't be long until England is the first Muslim country in Europe.  Then France will follow...then Sweden....etc.

Europe will look significantly different in a generation...all because Europeans have turned away from Christianity.  The continent will indeed look very dark in the coming years. 

Of course, this article is predictable as it wants to rally sympathy for the "religion of peace".

mrtmd1
mrtmd1

It is always the politicians telling us that Islam is peaceful and that the attacks do not represent Islam.... Where are the outraged Muslims?????  Just like Germans who sat silently as Hitler engaged in atrocities, why don't the Peaceful Muslims speak out... are they also afraid??  If so, then perhaps there is something for them to be afraid of.  

We must call it what it is Islamic Jihadist terror, violence and medieval savagery.  Those two Made London look like Somalia....except the public has not been disarmed in Somalia.

masterwiseguy
masterwiseguy

@mrtmd1 They have all spoken out. Read the news. Many have gone and put flowers at the site of the attack including Somalis living in the area. You are promoting an opinion that is a lie designed to instigate more hatred. These two guys used a car and a knife. You use words.

sampa1961atyahoo
sampa1961atyahoo

I feel with Muslim communities and hope no harm comes to them but the truth is Islam is far from being a peaceful religion.

masterwiseguy
masterwiseguy

@sampa1961atyahoo It is as much a peaceful religion as is Christianity or any other faith. Best to be an agnostic or aetheist

rihannk
rihannk

Another senseless act of cowardice in the name of Islam.   The West is waging a just war against these terrorists whose only strategy seems to be to terrorise and victimize innocent, unarmed civilians.  I believe in religious freedom UNLESS it actively supports acts that are evil and harmful to society and its members.  What happens when a harmful cult rears its head in a Western country?  Police and authorities act to prevent harm to society.  They erradicate the cult and its members out of prevention for damage to society.  

Why are Western governments so tolerant/passive about the real breeding grounds for hatred and evil on their home turf?  Mosques and Islamic centres should be registered, controlled and monitored by authorities in western countries.  They should actively attend and monitor the teachings and clerics should be registered with authorities.  The mosques are where the seeds are being sown and where the radicals get "justification" for these evil acts.  Islam has proven itself over time as a radical, dangerous religion that preaches peace on the surface but has a radical side aimed at destroying the West and its culture.  Islam cannot be trusted as adding value to society.  In all of the Western countries where this is a foreign religion it should be viewed through the glasses that people would view a potential terrorist cell.

masterwiseguy
masterwiseguy

@rihannk - It is always small groups or individuals not a billion+ people who are terrorists. Terrorism is not unique to Islam, although Islamic terrorism is in the public eye in our time. I bet you wouldn't call all Germans or all Irish terrorists based on Bader Meinhoff or IRA actions. Keep using that big brush instead of prosecuting the war on terror in a way that doesn't breed more of these guys everyday. We need to take down terrorists. It is the collateral damage that we seem to not care about, that fuels hatred of us and drives some to try and hurt us. Neither side is justified in this and the cycle will continue till something changes.

NotGreatBritain
NotGreatBritain

This wouldn't happen in Dubai. Nor in Saudi Arabia, or Jordan, Qatar or even Iran. Why? Because they are Islamic countries with Islam only and everyone is happy (more or less) Islam is not and never will be, compatible with a different way of life. It cannot integrate. Labour had an open door immigration policy because it was terrified about hurting peoples feelings and the country is filled with Muslim ghetto's that have not integrated or assimilated, but kept an all Islam society, Sharia Law rules, totally ignoring OUR laws, culture and way of life. If you are a Muslim, please, for everyone's sake, go back to where you came from. If you give me the "but I was born here" then go back to where your father was born. You'll never get a 2nd generation Muslim in England. My generation goes back to when records began but they have more rights than I do, especially welfare allowance. Work that one out? 

masterwiseguy
masterwiseguy

Go back to Saxony or wherever your ancestors came from. Unless you are a pureblood pict you are a immigrant too.

Joe_Smith
Joe_Smith

@masterwiseguy But the point remains that those who immigrate to another country need to take on their values...not impose the values that they brought with them on their new country.

PineSource
PineSource

I don't understand they think killing people is right. Life is loss, and can't be recovered. Two weeks ago, a Philippine coast guard ship shooted an unarmed Taiwanese fisherman, and Filipinos think they have the right to kill. If they don't like this person, they have another way to express their unsatisfaction, but not by killing people.

makaveli77
makaveli77

@ WASPNEST...I totally agree with you! By the way, what kinda religion regards a man who married a 9 year old? Isn't that paedophilia?

MacMc
MacMc

A man murders another man in the street in front of several people, and even when he's giving his speech into someone's cell phone the cowering mob stands and stares? There's not one man in the group of onlookers who has the balls to kick the sh*t out of the guy with the knife? The murderer wanders around freely without a care in the world. Who is there to be afraid of? And then I have to read about the nervous Muslims worried about Islamophobia? Why not march against the atrocious acts being committed in the name of your peace loving religion? Is everyone a meat puppet?

scribe15
scribe15

I agree. There was something disconcertingly placid and unemotional about the onlookers, even the women who chatted the killers up seemed too casual, not really affected by the horrendous attack they had witnessed, and they didn't seem afraid particularly either. It was odd.

ecnarongi
ecnarongi like.author.displayName 1 Like

@MacMc Yeah, where were you, man? If only an internet hero like yourself  had been there things would have turned out differently, right?

markblumberg
markblumberg

Would you try and tackle a crazed man with a knife? If it were me, I wouldn't know how to go about doing it without simply charging the guy and hoping for the best.

curt3rd
curt3rd

No but I would have shot him.  Oh wait, not allowed to have guns in England, let him hack people to death.

masterwiseguy
masterwiseguy

@curt3rd - He hacked one person to death. How many could he have shot in the same time?

PUDGE
PUDGE like.author.displayName 1 Like

Blow that Mosque up in Woolrich and the muslims too!!