British Muslims Highlight Racism 10 Years After London Attacks

SHAFAQNA - Some British Muslims wonder how to commemorate when they are the everyday targets of racism.  Memorial services were held across Britain on Tuesday to commemorate the 52 people who died in a London bomb attack in 2005. The British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was present at a memorial in Hyde Park Tuesday morning, warned of ongoing “terrorist” threats, alluding to the British people who died in Tunisian attacks last month. “Ten years on from the 7/7 London attacks, the threat from terrorism continues to be as real as it is deadly,” Cameron said. “We will keep on doing all that we can to keep the British public safe, protecting vulnerable young minds from others’ extremist beliefs and promoting the shared values of tolerance, love and respect that make Britain so great.” While the commemorative day meant to unite the nation in mourning against an allegedly foreign and common enemy, for some members of British Muslim communities it was an uneasy reminder of their ambivalent and marginalized position in society. “How do you navigate public (and private) mourning when it will always be leveraged against your body?,” Momtaza Mehri wrote in a reflection piece called “Why I am staying in on the 7th of July” for Media Diversified. In a country where “Toddlers are being earmarked as potential “radicals,” Mehri confesses it’s better “to lay low, play safe, shrink inwards.”

Similar frustrations were expressed by Mehdi Hasan in a Guardian piece on the commemoration day Tuesday. “British Muslims have been spied on, stopped and searched, stripped of citizenship, and subjected to control orders and detention without trial. Many were not guilty of any crime.” In his denouncement, Hasan refers to a controversial 2006 Terrorism Act passed in direct response to the London attacks. The Act allowed for “terrorism” suspects to be held without charge for 28 days and have their monetary assets frozen.  The number of arrests for alleged terrorism charges spiked as a result, predominantly targeting men of color in their 20s. The indiscriminate targeting of people of color in the name of the “war on terror” that Hasan decries was unmentioned in the memorial services Tuesday. According to London Mayor Boris Johnson, the London bombings had “failed in their aim” and “didn’t in any way change the fundamentals of London and what makes this city great”. “I think most people would say that London has become even more cosmopolitan, even more welcoming,” Johnson affirmed. Research suggests a different reality however, indicating instead that anti-Muslim sentiments, as a consequence of the attacks, has increased. “Levels of racism are at a 20-year high,” Dr. Chris Allen from the University of Birmingham said in the Independent. “Research shows that we are less trusting and more suspicious of different communities, especially Muslims.”

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