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Mosque Attack Raises Questions Of Double Standards

By Brian E. Muhammad -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Jun 28, 2017 - 1:56:25 PM

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One person was killed, and eight are in the hospital after a van slammed into crowds of pedestrians in Finsbury Park, North London June 18. Photos: MGN Online

The United Kingdom has been racked in recent weeks with violent attacks. Most blamed on so-called “Islamist” extremists or “jihadists” at war with everything they deem un-Islamic. That’s the basic narrative, say observers of extremism.

On June 19, a Caucasian van driver identified as Darren Osborne, 47, of Wales reportedly said he wanted to “kill all Muslims.” He is accused of plowing down Muslim men and women leaving late night prayers at the Finsbury Park Mosque and Muslim Welfare House in North London.

Several people were injured and one person was killed in the attack that was condemned worldwide. The victim was 51-year-old Makram Ali, a Bangladesh native who lived in England since the age of 10. Mr. Osborne’s actions raise questions about anti-Muslim attitudes, xenophobia in Europe and double standards in response to them.

Darren Osborne
“By way of the attack on the Finsbury Park Mosque by this Caucasian terrorist, it took a lot of pressure on the government and other spokespersons to call it a terrorist act,” said Hilary Muhammad, the European Regional Representative of the Nation of Islam.

“The mere fact that this individual rode his van on the pavement and killed a Muslim outside of a mosque in the early hours of the morning shows the type of spirit that clearly is moving amongst Caucasian people.”

Personal assaults against Muslims have been on the rise throughout Europe such as in France where the hijab (Muslim woman head covering) is against the law and there is a strong push for government control in Islamic communities. “This type of spirit has always been there, it just hasn’t been reported. The amount of hate crimes that have been reported concerning Muslims is at an all-time high,” Student Minister Muhammad pointed out.

Early June statistics show a 40 percent increase in racist incidents, compared to the daily average this year, and a fivefold increase in the number of Islamophobic incidents in the UK, according to the office of the London Mayor.

A statement said 54 racist incidents were recorded on May 6 alone compared to a daily average of 38 in 2017. Twenty of them were anti-Muslim incidents, well above the 2017 daily average of 3.5.

“This is the highest daily level of Islamophobic incidents in 2017 to date,” the statement said, adding it was higher than levels reached after the November 2015 attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim elected to the position, told reporters the attack was meant to divide communities. “Terrorism is terrorism,” he was reported as stating to members of the media. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re inspired by a perverse force of Islam, a perverse version of Islam, or you’re inspired by some other motives to try and terrorize others. The intention is the same.”

Officials at the Finsbury Park Mosque and other Muslim leaders noted the political timing of the act and challenged the government not to waver in its investigations in the matter.

“This is a callous terrorist attack, which coincides with the murdered MP (Member of Parliament), Jo Cox anniversary,” read a statement on the mosque website. It was referring to the outspoken and popular lawmaker of the Labor Party murdered in June 2016 by a 52-year-old White male, who espoused politically far right views that are growing in Europe. Many people believe Ms. Cox’s death was a politically driven assassination.

On Mr. Osbourne’s assault on the worshippers the statement said: “We are extremely unhappy with the mainstream media not reporting this as a terrorist attack.”

The officials complained that initial coverage didn’t characterize the assault as terrorism in comparison to deadly attacks last month in Manchester, England, inside a packed concert arena and a vehicle and knife attack in London where there were also deaths and injuries.

Mohammed Kozbar, the chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque called the incident “a cowardly attack” and said it’s no different than the incidents in Manchester and London.

“They are very swift in describing attacks involving individuals professing to be Muslims and acting in the name of Islam. We need fair and balanced reporting from the media; it is completely unacceptable that the media chose to engage in selective reporting.”

In a statement of solidarity, Dr. Omer El-Hamdoon, president of the Muslim Association of Britain, called on Muslims to be “extra vigilant following these hateful Islamophobic attacks, and to be cautious.”

Some point to anti-immigrant sentiment permeating the United Kingdom particularly and Europe in general. There have been demands on the British Home Secretary to counteract the “serious threats” to minority groups and immigrants, posed by the British Far-Right movement.

Europe has been a hot spot for acts of mayhem and bloodshed and debate about immigration and the impact of religious and ethnic minorities on European identity, say analysts.

For example, the BBC reported on the rapid growth of a German-based organization called PEGIDA, “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West”—which has distressed the German government. A December 2014 “anti-Islamization” rally they organized attracted a record crowd of 25,000 in Dresden. Such anti-immigration groups are becoming common among European Whites who advocate “White nationalism” and a “White Identitarian” ideology.

Observers note that targeted attacks are reflecting the mindset of White Europeans.

“It was such a heinous act publicly… that’s the only real reason why we are speaking about it—but lesser crimes are being committed all over Europe and particularly in this country,” Mr. Muhammad explained to The Final Call.

He said hate crimes against Muslims have overtaken anti-Semitism as the number one crime against any religious group. “This has never happened before,” Mr. Muhammad added.

“It’s been happening for a long time and it happens systematically,” he said.

Despite the backlash and overt hostility, the Muslim community in the UK is “tight knit,” very “resilient” and organized. They are immigrants whose response to the adversity is based on recognizing the strength of their identity and unity. The Muslims in the UK are one million in population.

“I don’t think that people are ignorant of the hostility that face them on a daily basis,” Mr. Muhammad said.

In fact, when the van driver was apprehended by the crowd on the scene of the attack, they held him until the authorities arrived rather than harm him. Muslim leaders are saying the British government now has an opportunity to demonstrate if justice will be done for the Muslim community.

The usual double standard causes questions about balance and ethics because Muslims have been stigmatized in the media as terrorists, analysts point out.

Whenever Muslims are accused there are usually dozens of arrests immediately in the aftermath. But, in Mr. Osbourne’s case, he was the only arrest—although there were reports of two other people who ran from the scene.

“They called this individual a terrorist, but didn’t name his religion … who radicalized him?” Mr. Muhammad asked.