Radio or television news programmes soon turn to Woolwich, Lee Rigby, Michael Adebolajo, Michael Adebowale, and Muslims. So-called experts are quick to pass comments, thankfully most speak a great deal of sense, and members of the public call in with their opinions.
The English Defence League (EDL) wasted no time. They took to the streets and the internet within hours, stirring up support and spreading false rumours, causing further terror in a society which had been terrorised enough. Yes we can say they are ignorant and we should not pay any attention. But wasn’t it ignorance and lack of understanding that led to the horror on the streets of Woolwich on Wednesday afternoon?
As the days progressed and the press attention showed no signs of subsiding, fear turned to anger. Not only did the press continue to scaremonger, but members of the Muslim community began acting irrationally out of fear. A checklist posted online “for Muslims” on how to stay safe, with advice including don’t walk down a dark alley alone, don’t let the elderly, the young, or women walk the streets alone. We are quick to point the finger over issues of “us” and “them”, but we are just as guilty of it. Such behaviour can only lead to more divisions within society, when this is the time we must all stand together.
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown put it perfectly when she wrote, “We hate Islamicist brutes more than any outsiders ever could. They ruin our futures and hopes.” And she is right. If there is anyone who will benefit the most from the expulsion of these extremists, it is the law-abiding, everyday Muslim. But until that day comes, we must not separate ourselves. Yes we are Muslims, but we are also British, and it is up to us to decide which way this goes.