No to Islamophobia – Solidarity with the Finsbury Park Mosque

Jeremy Corbyn talking with mosque worshippers after the Finsbury Park Mosque attack

By Jude Woodward

The dangerous consequences of May and the Tories scapegoating of Muslims and migrants has been given terrible reality by the Islamophobic terrorist attack on a mosque in Islington.

So far it appears that there may not have been any deaths caused directly by this attack by a violent white supremacist extremist, although a eleven people were reported as injured. However there can be little doubt that the intention was to kill and maim Muslims gathered outside the mosque in the midst of the holy month of Ramadan.

This is not the first attack on Muslims by white supremacists terrorists, but until this attack the police and the government have been unwilling to use the label ‘terrorist’. They wanted to reserve ‘terrorist’ for violent Islamic extremists as opposed to other kinds of politically motivated violence, in order to support their narrative that it is Islam that produces terrorism, thereby stigmatising all Muslims.

The government has cynically encouraged this Islamophobic view – that Islam is somehow uniquely violent – and reinforced it through initiatives like the Prevent programme. This narrative on ‘Islamic violence’ runs alongside similar tropes on Islam and women, alleged ‘takeovers’ of schools in Birmingham, of self-segregation and many others.

The aim of all this is first to divert the population from declining living standards, and present the threat of the ‘other’ as the chief factor undermining community cohesion rather than rising poverty and falling social support.

Secondly the narrative that Islam itself encourages violence crowds out any serious discussion as to how the West’s destructive interventions in the Middle East and North Africa and the ongoing oppression of the Palestinians may have created a sense of deep injustice and impotence that can lead a small minority to extreme acts of violence.

Thirdly, it politically silences the Muslim community, as any expression of strong opposition to West’s policies in majority Islamic countries, or the treatment of Muslim communities here, is presented as tantamount to encouraging ‘terrorism’.

This Islamophobic campaign has been going on intensely for 15 years since the launch of the ‘war on terror’ and deepened with austerity after the 2008 financial crisis. It has created conditions where mosques have been defiled, innocent Muslims attacked and even murdered, Muslim women harassed and communities made to feel they are living in a state of siege.

Not surprisingly, given the daily vilification of Muslims, some extreme rightists, white supremacists, ultra-British nationalists and others have been persuaded by this daily defamation of a community that they are justified in carrying out acts of terror against it.

All people of goodwill must not only speak out, but actively campaign against racism and Islamophobia and aid in defending Muslim communities from attack. And the culprits of this, and every, attack must be brought to justice.

But no one should be in any doubt where the responsibility for such acts of violence also lies. Despite May’s rush to visit the scene of the attack – after being vilified for here failure to go to Grenfell Tower – her government and that of Cameron before her deliberately stoked an atmosphere of fear, exclusion and hatred that bred this attack.

* Vigil: No to Islamophobia – Unity with Finsbury Park Mosque

6.30pm-7.30pm Today (Tuesday 20 June)

Finsbury Park Mosque

7-11 St Thomas’s Road, London N4 2QH

Hosted by: Stand Up To Racism

Jude Woodward is an officer of Stand Up To Racism