Just after midnight Monday (London time), a van attack outside a mosque in Finsbury Park in London left at least 10 injured and one man dead. The attack targeted Muslims who were leaving the mosque after prayers during Ramadan. This attack illustrates two things. First, senseless violence begets senseless violence. Second, the hypocrisy of many Muslims. Because those who can hardly muster the strength to do more than light candles and regurgitate trite clichés in the wake of terrorist attacks by Muslims are rising up — in the wake of this attack by a single individual with mental health issues — to condemn violence against Muslims.
Following three Islamic terror attacks in England in as many months — which left 37 dead and at least 207 injured — 47-year-old Darren Osborne drove a white van off the road at high speed and aimed the van at pedestrians who were leaving the mosque. He struck several of them and drove over the legs of a man who was lying down because he had just suffered what appeared to be a heart attack. That man died at the scene as his daughter held him. It is not known if he died from a heart attack or as a result of the injuries from the van attack.
Ten others were injured, with eight of them requiring medical treatment at three area hospitals. All of the victims were Muslim.
Osborne was apprehended by the crowd and is reported to have shouted that he wanted “to kill all Muslims” and that he did what he “had to do.” The police did not immediately treat the attack as an act of terrorism. In an initial statement released at 1:03 a.m. (London time), police said a vehicle had left the road and collided with pedestrians. A later statement — released at 4:46 a.m. — said counter-terrorism police were investigating the attack.
The attack on the mosque was the cowardly act of a single man who is likely mentally ill. It was terrible and wrong. Under British law, it may be considered a “hate crime” (though — in reality — there is no such thing), but it was not an act of terrorism.
The backlash from some Muslim groups — who usually either remain silent or issue cut-and-paste statements rife with clichés in the wake of attacks such as those on Westminster Bridge, at the concert in Manchester, and on London Bridge in recent months — was immediate and passionate. The Muslim Council of Britain condemned “Islamophobia” and “anti-Mulsim sentiment” in a statement to Sky News. Miqdaad Versi, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, told Sky News:
We have national newspapers spreading hate and talking about how less Islam is the answer to terrorism that we face right now. These people are spreading hate against Muslims and people might be responding to that hate, talking about less Islam, and [something like this attack] may be the result.... We cannot have this happening. We have had a number of incidents against Muslim communities. Hate crime has gone up considerably according to the Metropolitan Police, according to the Mayor of London, according to many third party sources as well.
Compare that to the statement the Muslim Council of Britain issued after the deadly attack on London Bridge. In that statement, Harun Khan, secretary general of the council, said:
I am appalled and angered by the terrorist attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market, in my home city. These acts of violence were truly shocking and I condemn them in the strongest terms.
Muslims everywhere are outraged and disgusted at these cowards who once again have destroyed the lives of our fellow Britons. That this should happen in this month of Ramadan, when many Muslims were praying and fasting only goes to show that these people respect neither life nor faith.
My prayers are with the victims and all those affected. I commend the work of our emergency services working hard to keep us safe and cope with the ensuing carnage. As ever we urge everyone to assist the authorities so that these criminals can be apprehended and brought to justice.
To see the material difference between these two statements, it is important to note three things: the similarities between the attacks, the differences between the attacks, and what is addressed in each statement issued by the Muslim Council of Britain about each attack.
First, in both the London Bridge attack and the mosque attack, the primary weapon was a white van. Second, in both attacks, the attackers were reported to have been shouting something as they exited the vans; the London Bridge attackers shouted, “This is for Allah!” and the mosque attacker shouted, “I want to kill all Muslims.”
Those two similarities are contrasted by the differences. First, the London Bridge attack had three attackers, demonstrating a conspiracy between at least those men, possibly more. Second, the London Bridge attack was motivated by the attackers’ perception of their duty to their religion while the mosque attacker is likely mentally ill and could very well have been motivated by fear of Islam in the wake of attacks such as the one on London Bridge. Third, the London Bridge attackers also used knives to stab and slash additional victims, killing six and injuring 48. The mosque attacker was not armed except for the van he used in the attack.
Given those similarities and differences, the comparison between what is — and is not — said in each statement issued by the Muslim Council of Britain warrants some examination. The statement after the London Bridge attack lacks anything that can be considered substance. The council could change the name of the attack and reissue the same statement after the next Islamic terrorist attack. It also reads like an endorsement of Islam. And in that, it misses some key points of honesty: “Muslims everywhere” were not and are not “outraged and disgusted” at these attacks; that’s why they keep happening.
By comparison, the statement issued by the council after the mosque attack is specific. It addresses issues related to the attack. It cannot so easily be recycled in the event of another attack on Muslims. And that bears a little exploration, as well. While Assistant Secretary General Versi claims that there have been “a number of incidents against Muslim communities” and that “hate crime has gone up considerably according to the Metropolitan Police, according to the Mayor of London, according to many third party sources,” he does not cite those “third party sources” or name any incidents. The fact is that any comparison between the violence perpetrated by Muslims and the violence perpetrated against Muslims would show a disproportionate body count on the side of the attacks perpetrated by Muslims. Period.
And while Versi cites “the Mayor of London” as a source for his claim, the fact remains that Mayor Saddiq Khan — himself a Sunni Muslim — has made a habit of accusing anyone who shows any concern about the influx of Muslim immigration into England or the rise of Islamic terrorism of being “Islamophobic.” He is hardly a credible source. Sure, Khan has condemned the attack at the mosque as a “hate crime,” but — like other liberals and Muslim apologists — his outrage is disproportionate. His policies are largely responsible for the violence perpetrated by extremist Muslims and his condemnation of their acts reads like a statement from the Muslim Council of Britain.
And, while the statement from the council about the mosque attack points at what the council sees as the root of the problem (“national newspapers spreading hate” for reporting on terrorist attacks by Muslims), the statement issued after the London Bridge attack lacks anything that resembles addressing the root problem of Islamic radicalization taking place in the mosques of Britain. In fact, the mosque targeted in this attack has — until the past few years — been a hotbed of radical Islam. Finsbury Park Mosque was closed by authorities following an anti-terrorist police raid in 2003. It was reopened in 2005 under new leadership. The previous Imam, Abu Hamza al-Masri, was extradited to the United States where he was found guilty on 11 charges of terrorism. He is serving a life sentence.
Imam Abu Hamza al-Masri represents those Muslims who are not “outraged and disgusted” by acts of terrorism perpetrated by radical Muslims. In fact, during his time at Finsbury Park Mosque, he spawned the very radical Muslims who went forth to plan and carry out such attacks. Those terrorists include 9/11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, “shoebomber” Richard Reid, and others. Terrorist training — including weapons training — took place in the mosque for years, dating back to the late 1990’s.
Mosques such as Finsbury Park in the past, Imams such as Abu Hamza al-Masri, and the culture of terrorism still apparent in Islam are the root of the terrorism problem in Britain and elsewhere. Of course, the statement by the Muslim Council of Britain ignores that, because to address it would fit their twisted definition of “Islamaphobia.”
Two things are certain from this attack: All senseless acts of violence are wrong and only one type will be addressed by liberals and many Muslim groups. And that is the real problem.