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We should not abuse the Woolwich tragedy

While wounds of this attack have been afflicted, we as a nation must choose whether to widen them, or allow them to heal

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Undoubtedly, the nation remains shocked by yesterday's horrific events. In Woolwich- a town in London only a few miles from my family home, a man was shot, beheaded, and maliciously flogged down a street by two murderers. One of them, brandishing blood stained meat cleavers, boisterously claimed on camera that he had 'fought for Allah', in revenge for British military intervention.

There are three elements the media focused on in this story : First, the men who identified themselves as Muslims. Second, the army cadet victim, wearing a 'Help for Heroes' t-shirt. Most harrowing of all, the men's demands that other civilians film the cold, remorseless justifications of their brutal actions.

From this, anyone following social media yesterday would have seen how the murder of a British serviceman could be cynically appropriated into an ideological battle, where a majority of law-abiding Muslims would be forced to defend their faith from violent lunatics on both sides. This polarizing rhetoric, rife with threats just as brutal as the attack itself, only intensified when the English Defence League (EDL) became involved. Indeed, rather than mourning the death of an innocent human being, this attack is now being used as a sick opportunity to further incite divisions and perpetuate hatred.

I don't wish to moralise here. Enough Muslim spokespeople and action groups have rightfully condemned the attacks and paid sympathies with the victim's family. It's just unfortunate that instead of bringing communities together, these aggressive retaliations and threats by anti-Muslim groups indicate a future of further hostility, suspicion and separation. In the midst of a crisis, especially when few of us know what's going on, the last thing needed is overtly vilifying rhetoric. Not only does it grossly misrepresent vulnerable groups, it's also insulting to the victims and their families.

What these arbitrary divisions actually achieve plays right into the murderer's hands. It should be understood that yesterday was not simply an attack on a soldier, but also a publicity stunt, designed to provoke. Hence the reason why videos were made, and the public encouraged to take photos. In fact, one of the men even claimed his intention to 'start a war' in London. Like the EDL and similar groups, these men want little more than an all-out ideological battle, pitting all of us against each other, despite the majority's desire to coexist peacefully.

At this stage, perhaps we can all learn something from one of yesterday's heroes, Cub scout leader Ingrid Loyau-Kennett. In a manner that even the bravest of people should admire, she put her life on the line in order to protect others, regardless of their race, religion or sexuality. In so doing, she showed that we all share a common humanity, despite our differences and wrong doings. That's something I hope those currently calling for the death penalty to consider.

While the rest of this story continues to unfold, I am sure that we will continue to hear of more verbal and physical abuse and more divisive rhetoric, especially from politicians who are already seeking electoral support. What we should remember is that this tragedy ultimately concerns family and friends who lost a loved one in the most horrific way possible. Using this to facilitate prejudices or take political cheap shots is not only insulting to them, but also degrades all our fallen servicemen. But if a moral lesson might be learnt from yesterday, it is perhaps the recognition that while wounds of this attack have been afflicted, we as a nation must choose whether to widen them, or allow them to heal.

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3 Comment

Conservative Posted on Wednesday 30 Sep 2020

It may not be the Muslims who are a problem, but Islam certainly is. It's a vile, violence and hate inciting ideology. Muhammed killed, robbed and raped, and the Quran is full of verses that call for violence against jews and christians. As long as the Muslim community doesn't stand up and openly opposes these verses, instead blaming it on "wrong translation", there is nothing to debate with them.

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@conservative Posted on Wednesday 30 Sep 2020

Islam can't exist without Muslims in the same way that Judaism cannot exist without Jews and vice versa. I appreciate your attempts not to sound discriminatory, but the line doesn't make any sense.

As for the Qu'ran; needless to say, violent verses exist in all Holy Books, even those outside of the Monotheistic faiths. I do think you are right to criticise Muslims who claim that Islam is a pacifist religion- it isn't and its history has seen the Prophets engaged in combat.

But on the translation issue- this has been far too simplified by those who pursue the argument. Yes, violent verses exist, but they exist within a context, which I agree a lot of the Muslim community tends to ignore. The consequence of that is that groups with an axe to grind can openly appropriate the verses to suit their agenda, and manipulate vulnerable people in the process. It's not mistranslation that's the problem, it's how words are appropriated.

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Kate Posted on Wednesday 30 Sep 2020

Our country appears to have high principles when it comes to equally and we are constantly reminded of the "respect" our government demonstrates towards other ethnicities and religions in this country, yet the media only encourages racism.

That vile murderer was accurate when he stated that our government don't care about us. The government are racist. Our troops are their weapons.

It is deeply depressing that those two guys thought it necessary to resort to such disgusting measures as way of attempting to make the public aware of the fact that terroism is not only inflicted on our country but by our country.

In May so far, there have been a confirmed 619 iraqi civilians killed by US-led coalation forces. Yes - civilians. not soldiers/militants.

The Woolwich murderers' incentive was, predictably, ill-perceived by most, partly due to the religious-involvement which is regarded at ignorant, idiotic nonsence by the atheist majority. Especially considering that the claimed belief of a "God" encouraging such brutal, savage violence, is insane.

It is inevitable that both sides will continue to retaliate, until what? War solves nothing. There will never be peace as long as we continue to believe the vicious posion that is fed to us on a daily basis through this tainted, government-controlled media.

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