by Struan Stevenson
The Finsbury Park mosque attack in London is the latest horrific outrage to stun public opinion.
Muslim communities, to identify and root out extremist voices within. But following the Finsbury Park atrocity, should we also be calling for deeper engagement and surveillance within primarily white, British communities to root out extremists?
Following the Manchester and London Bridge atrocities there was an inevitable reaction from certain factions of the public and even some factions of the political establishment that immediately attempted to lay the blame at the feet of our British Muslim communities.
This is a common knee-jerk reaction, which is not only logically unsound it is also terribly impractical, because the demonization and alienation of moderate Muslims from British society is just the outcome that the terrorists would like.
The extremists who murdered indiscriminately in Manchester and on London Bridge are no more representatives of the Muslim community than the white driver of the van who allegedly ploughed into innocent bystanders outside Finsbury Park Mosque can be said to represent the majority white British community. These people are extremists. They are fanatics. We cannot and must not attempt to label the communities they come from in the same fashion.
People affected by the recent attacks need our support. It was heart-warming to see the response from all sectors of society for the survivors of each of these tragedies, in particular the horrific Grenfell Flats fire. Muslims, Christians, people of all religions and none, came together to provide money, clothing, food and shelter, confounding the hate preachers and lifting the dark shadow which has been cast over peace-loving people everywhere.
Britons of every ethnic and religious background must work together to make sure that police forces are given the assistance they need, that moderate and peaceful dialogue is maintained no matter what the underlying ideology and that the extreme fringe of Islam, right-wing fascists, left-wing thugs, or indeed any other religious or political movement are denied a platform anywhere in our society.
For example, in Paris on July 1, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) will be holding its annual Iran Freedom rally, which in recent years has been attended by upwards of 100,000 Iranian expatriates and their European supporters, including hundreds of dignitaries from political and academic circles in various nations of the world. Each such event reiterates the 10-point plan for democracy and justice promoted by NCRI President Maryam Rajavi, a Muslim like the overwhelming majority of the organization’s members. The plan calls for a truly secular democratic government in Iran, where religion is separated from the state, the death penalty is abolished and men and women have equal rights.
A plan that repudiates the existing regime’s long history of sponsoring terrorism and bolstering sectarian conflicts in the region and throughout the world.
This and other gatherings of moderate Muslims should serve as a reminder to the people of the UK and Europe in the aftermath of recent terrorist attacks that there are Muslims all around us who dedicate their very lives to demonstrating the abiding compatibility between Islam and our cherished rights to live, believe and worship in freedom and peace.
Those of us who are not of the same faith and those of us of no faith must do everything in our power to promote that message and to recognize that the conflict at hand is not between Islam and the West, but rather between extremists and those who believe in coexistence and would defend the rights of all people from Britain to Middle East and throughout the world.