London killing dishonours Islam, say Muslim groups
There are fears that the Muslim community could face reprisals in ethnically divided areas
Britain’s prime minister David Cameron prepares to speak in front of 10 Downing Street yesterday. Photograph: Olivia Harris/Reuters
The brutal killing of a British soldier in Woolwich has been condemned by leading Muslim organisations in Britain, who said the perpetrators had dishonoured Islam.
“This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. Our thoughts are with the victim and his family,” said the Muslim Council of Britain.
Calling for solidarity with all other communities, the council said: “This attack on a member of the armed forces is dishonourable, and no cause justifies this murder.”
The tone of the condemnations reflects horror at the brutality of the killing, but also reflects fears that the Muslim community could face reprisals in some ethnically divided districts in Britain.
Expressing “horror and outrage”, the council’s secretary general, Farooq Murad, said the killers’ cries of “ Allahu Akbar ”, or “God is Great” as they set upon their victim “desanctified this sacred statement”.
Urging Muslims “to reach out to fellow Brits and testify the reality of your faith”, Mr Murad said the English Defence League and other far-right groups wanted to use the incident in Woolwich “to stoke hatred” between communities.
‘Attack on nation’
The Islamic Society of Britain said the murder of a soldier was “an attack upon our nation”, adding, “No efforts should be spared in purging this hate. Justifying this killing in the name of faith or religion is false and rejected: rejected by scripture, rejected by those who commit to God, rejected by civil society. And rejected by truth.”
The statements came as the far-right British National Party, which is reverting to its street protest roots following its failure to progress in elections, called for a public demonstration this weekend.
Julie Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Britain said: “We can’t allow the voices of [BNP leader] Nick Griffin and the far right to become louder than ours in the coming days.
“The people who did this act yesterday do not speak in my name; do not speak for my community or the rest of the country. We have to come out with the strongest condemnation.”
Reflecting a similar tone, British prime minister David Cameron said: “The people who did this are trying to divide us – they should know that something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger.
“This was not just an attack on Britain and on the British way of life; it was also a betrayal of Islam, and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country. There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.
“We will defeat violent extremism by standing together, by backing our police and security services, and above all by challenging the poisonous narrative of extremism on which this violence feeds.”
Rejecting calls for the introduction of immediate draconian security measures, Mr Cameron said he would make sure that questions about future security needs “are asked and answered, but I’m not in favour of knee-jerk responses.
“The police have responded with heightened security and activity, and that is right, but one of the best ways of defeating terrorism is to go about our normal lives, and that is what we shall all do.”
In east London, the Greenwich Islamic Centre condemned “in the strongest terms the barbaric murder of a serving army officer and share the grief and sorrow of the nation.
“The local Muslim community has always enjoyed an excellent relationship with the people from all walks of life regardless of their religion, colour or ethnic background,” it added.
The British cabinet’s sole Muslim member, Baroness Sayeed Warsi, said she had been “incredibly impressed” by the way the Muslim community had condemned the killing.