Finsbury Park tragedy highlights social malaise and radicalisation

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SHAFAQNA – After a man in his late forties rammed his van into a group of mosque-goers near Finsbury Park (London) as they stepped back onto the streets after evening prayer, killing one, British Prime Minister, Theresa May, characterised the attack as an act of terror – thus highlighting the deep social malaise that seems to have gripped the western world.

If Islamophobia and hate crimes have long been on the rise – a trend that neither state officials or activists have been able to curb over the past decades, due a sharp increase in terror attacks by Wahhabi/Salafi inspired militants, such a gruesome attack on innocent and peaceful civilians at the heart of London revealed the extent to which hate, prejudiced policies and ethno-sectarian bias have fueled exclusionism.

Terror as it were, is no longer the monopoly of groups such as Daesh, the Taliban, Al-Qaeda or Boko Haram. An ideology powered by self-righteous ignorance and intolerance Terror has crossed into mainstream to sit itself the proverbial elephant in the room.

If the western world so far could hug the moral high ground by asserting itself “holier” on account it did not profess bloodshed against minorities to better justify its existence, Finsbury Park attack forever shattered that illusion.

One may argue that it is western capitals’ propensity to push neoimperialistic agenda in the Greater Middle East and beyond that allowed for Terror to rise a monster over all.

But assigning blame is not the point of this article … rather than point the finger we may want instead to realise that Finsbury Park tragedy attests to how far we have fallen as a society, and how vulnerable we have allowed ourselves to become before the poison of exclusionism.

Terror we may now learn to formulate is not tethered to Islamic radicalism – as expressed by the Wahhabi/Salafi complex. It is an ideology that feeds and breeds on the rejection of communities on account of their differences.

Terror is a way of thinking, and our failure to rise above our bias left us vulnerable to its influence.There, few can claim immunity … Intolerance one may argue has been the one sin that has prevented us from standing up to oppression, and in turn our inability to speak for the oppressed has allowed Terror to hold us hostage.

Until such a time when we will demand that our rights be that given to all communities, and all minorities on account we all stand equal in our quest for freedom, Terror will have a playground.

Unless we admit to our combined failures to address Terror and Terror’s many manifestations Finsbury Park could figure one attack among many yet to come. When hatred becomes our default position out of fear, violence will continue to breed further violence.

Turning against any particular community only ever serves the rationale of those very parties we claim to denounce and ambition to disappear.

I believe the following quote summarises exactly what is that we should learn to heal.

“The right of your neighbour is that you should guard him (His belongings) when he is absent, respect him when he is present and help him when he is wronged. Do not do any shameful act to him. If you know of any bad things about him keep that secret. If you know he will accept your advice then give it to him. Do not leave him alone when he is in trouble. Help him out of his troubles, forgive him if he has wronged you and treat him generously.” Imam Ali

By Catherine Shakdam for Shafaqna

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