Finsbury Park Attack Shows Reality of Islamophobia and Vulnerability of Faith Institutions

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Muslim worshippers leaving the Mosque after Ramadan night prayers were the victims of a vile targeted attack last night as a man in a van ploughed into a group of Muslims. Reports so far say that one person has died with a further 8 injured, some quite severely. Initial eye witness testimony from the scene of the attack claimed that the perpetrator, who was arrested at the scene, was heard to have said “I want to kill all Muslims”.

The attack took place around the Finsbury Park area of North London, outside the Muslim Welfare House, as Mosque worshippers were leaving from having been praying the Ramadan night prayers (taraweeh). Whilst the investigation into the attack is ongoing, it is being treated as a terrorist attack as the London Mayor said this morning, “Terrorism is terrorism irrespective of the motivations behind it” and the Prime Minister said, “This was an attack on Muslims near their place of worship. This is a reminder that terrorism, extremism and hatred take many forms”.

In an already very difficult week for London following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, this attack on the Muslim community comes at time of heightened anxiety and brings into sharp focus the reality of Islamophobia. With Anti-Muslim hate crime on the rise, there was a feeling of ‘if not when’ that this rising hate would manifest into something more sinister.

What this attack once again highlighted is that extremism exists in all parts of society and that there is no differentiation from people who inspire such terror as to who is harmed. The unfortunate hallmark for those who commit these atrocities is that they see innocent bystanders as prime targets and the best way to maximise the impact and exaggerate the fear they are trying to cause.

For this attack to take place in the holy month of Ramadan makes it even more difficult to bear. As Muslims come together in this month as a way of getting closer to God and increase in their charity and good deeds, attacks like this instil fear and a reluctance to openly express religion.

What this attack further highlights for the British Muslim community is the vulnerability and risk that exists around Mosques and Islamic Centres. With the exponential rise of Anti-Muslim sentiment across the world, through the political rhetoric of far-right politicians and groups, the safety and security of Islamic faith institutions is something that needs to be taken very seriously. The continued vilification and demonization of an entire community provides legitimacy for extremists to commit atrocities on places of worship and will only continue to divide communities further.

Within this context, Faith Associates in partnership with 8 national Mosque councils as well as the National Association of Muslim Police, has developed a 10 point ‘Mosque, Islamic Centre and Madrassah Security and Safety Tips’ leaflet that outlines a series of easy to understand and implement action points to help ensure places of worship are kept safe and secure.

Whilst it remains paramount that faith communities are alert to the threat and prepared to deal with crises, there is also an onus on local police and security services to develop collaborative approaches with faith institutions that work towards mitigating these threats and help build trust between local communities and local authorities. There must be a concerted effort to eradicate hate crimes from our society and ensure that all communities feel safe and protected.

We continue to pray for those that have been directly affected by this atrocity and for the welfare and safety of all those in society, be they of faith or not.

1 Comment

  • God has created diverse human beings to live in this tiny global village of one family. Creation by its very nature is diverse with different species, different communities, different cultures and languages. These differences represent the beauty and wonder but diversity is sometimes not fully appreciated, resulting in all sorts of clashes. The British society and Establishment must learn to respect and accommodate others, as if in a family.

    Multiculturalism is not about integration but about cultural plurality. It is not about separation but about respect and the deepening awareness of Unity in Diversity. Each culture will maintain its own intrinsic value and at the same time would be expected to contribute to the benefit of the whole society. Multiculturalism can accommodate diversity of all kinds – cultural, philosophical and religious – so that we can create a world without conflict and strife. Britain can assume the role of accommodation and concern for all peoples, for our planet and indeed for our survival. Multi-Culturalism is even more important and crucial after 9/11 and 7/7. Muslim youths are also likely to feel alienated by a focus on shared Brutishness, rather than multicultural diversity. Rather than promoting a single British “us” teaching should acknowledge that “us” can be diverse and plural. Children should be encouraged to explore differences in appearance, history and religion to reduce social and educational fears.

    We live in a shrunken world and millions of people are on the move; one of our biggest challenges is how we learn to live in proximity to difference – different skin colours, different beliefs and different way of life. According to a study by COMPAS, Muslims born and educated were given the impression of outsiders. The perception among Muslims is that they are unwelcome in Britain is undermining efforts to help them integrate into wider society. Most of them say that they have experienced race discrimination and religious prejudice. Muslims and Islam is promoted a fundamentalist and separatist by the western elite, which have negative impact on community and social cohesion. The number of racist incidents occurring in London Borough of Redbridge’s schools have reached their highest levels since record begin.

    What do you expect from a so called civilised Brit? Native Brits must learn to respect and tolerate those who are different. Stop treating foreigners like garbage and they will stop ruining your precious country. Why did you let them in in the first place if you didn’t want them here? They left everything in their countries because of your promises. Are you so anxious to please that you can’t say “no”? I would love to see you go to a foreign land where you don’t have any friends, you don’t even know anyone and you don’t speak the language, and start from scratch. I would just LOVE to watch you do that. Let them integrate and stop segregating them. What I want is people being nice to each other. I don’t care about race.

    Prejudice against Islam in the West developed due to historic rivalry of Christianity against Islam. The defeat of Christians by the Muslims in Crusades was a big shock for the Christian world. These deep wounds are still so fresh in the Christian world today that the parents, media, politicians and teachers feel it a duty to nurture the feelings of prejudice against Islam in the hearts and minds of their young generations. According to Runnymede Trust, Britain has become “an institutionally Islamophobic” society in which Muslims are demonised. Hostility towards Muslims is still a major problem and is not being taken seriously enough by race relations bodies. According to Dr. Richard Stone, there is now renewed talk of a clash of civilizations, a new global cold war, and mounting concern that the already fragile foothold gained by Muslim communities in Britain is threatened by ignorance and intolerance. According to John Gieve of the Home office, Islamic extremism might be a “symptom of disaffection”. The same disaffection previously surfaced during the riots that shook Oldham and Bradford in 2001.

    The hatred of Islam and Muslims reaches such peaks that it presides over the strangest, most radical political about-face, sometimes. So, the nationalist far right now often presents itself as feminist (to better bash Muslims on gender equality) but also as pro-gay rights (to bash Muslims on their supposed homophobia) and even animal rights activists (to better justify banning ritual slaughter) etc. etc. etc.

    A report by the Institute for Community Cohesion found that native parents were deserting some schools after finding their children out numbered by pupils from ethnic minorities. Schools in parts of England are becoming increasingly segregated. The study focused on 13 local authorities. Many of the schools and colleges are segregated and this was generally worsening over recent years. This is RACISM because British society is the home of institutional racism. My statement regarding Muslim schools where there is no place for non-Muslim child or a teacher is based on educational process and not on racism. Muslim children need Muslim teachers during their developmental periods. For higher studies and research, Muslim teacher is not a priority.

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