An attack on one is an attack on all

Nick Lowles - 19 06 17

As I write this, one person is dead and 10 others are injured after a van was driven into worshippers outside a mosque in Finsbury Park, north London.

Police have confirmed that all the victims were Muslims.

Coming almost a year-to-the day since the murder of Jo Cox MP, and after such a brilliant weekend for the Great Get Together held in her memory, I can’t tell you of the anger, as well as sorrow, that I feel.

My fear is that we are entering – and the extremists want us to enter – a cycle of of tit-for-tat violence. Where the extremes feed off one another, and terror attack propels terror attack. With four attacks in three months, there can feel a dangerous sense of inevitability to all this.

We must not let that happen.

The agendas of the Islamist extremists who carried out the Manchester and London Bridge attacks differ little from the far-right extremists who set out to target Muslims. Both share a belief that Muslims and non-Muslims cannot live peacefully together and both use the existence of the other to justify their own warped world view.

That is why we must oppose far-right extremism with the same intensity that we oppose Islamist extremism – a plague on both their houses, as we said back in 2013 after the murder of Lee Rigby.

We’ve long been calling on the authorities to take more action against ALL those who engage in and encourage terror, as well as those who use social networks to promote their messages of hate, toxifying the atmosphere and stoking the fires of division and intolerance.

While the authorities have taken action against extremist groups like National Action and Al-Muhajiroun, more needs to be done against the non-violent extremists who spew hatred and spread poison that inspire others to act.

It is time to remove the oxygen on which hate feeds online.

Let me say clearly to those who promote terror and inter-community hatred: we will expose you to the glare of publicity. We will bring your actions to the attention of the wider world and to government and other authorities. We will work to deny you the platforms and publicity that allows you to generate online followings calling for violence and recriminations against other communities.

No community entire, no “people”, are to blame for the actions of a few. Muslims are not “taking over”, nor are Islamophobic extremists. It can be lost in the miasma of blame and smear that, in fact, the vast majority of the country rejects all extremes. We saw that over the weekend, with the amazing response to the Great Get Together, when hundreds of thousands of people joined community events across the UK, a resounding yes to hope.

We will intensify our community work, a bedrock of HOPE not hate’s efforts. For years we have been working in some of the most divided and economically-depressed parts of the UK, forging links and bringing people together across the divides. With difficult conversations and willingness to engage beyond the usual boundaries, we want to build community resilience to resist the lure (and threat) of extremism.

Today it is vital we show solidarity to those under attack, but in the longer term this is not enough. As a society we need to be more proactive and find better ways to defeat those who want to destroy our lives. We need the Government to properly crack down on the haters, while at the same time we need civic society and local communities to come together and forge stronger shared identities and build resilience to hate.

HOPE not hate’s mission is Challenging Hate, Building Communities – and that is exactly what is required now.


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