‘Muslim’ Woman Singled Out In Viral London Terror Photo
Details are still coming in after yesterday’s terror attack in Westminster and the official investigation is only just underway. I suspect I’ll be blogging and podcasting a considerable amount in the coming days and weeks about this devastating act of Islamic terror.
At the time of writing this we know that at least 4 people are dead and many more are injured. The suspect is said to be British-born and the attack has been described as ‘Islamist’ in nature by the British Prime Minister.
In the meantime, as we wait for all the details to emerge, one particular injustice caught my eye which is worth pushing back against.
It has now gone ‘viral’ for all the wrong reasons:
The implication here is clear and without subtlety: This Muslim woman is indifferent, or perhaps even pleased with the situation she currently finds herself in.
The fact is, I don’t know who this lady is. I don’t know where she’s been, where she’s going, what she’s done, what she’s about to do or what she’s thinking. And neither does anyone else. And that’s my point.
A still image represents but a fraction of a second in time. And this one does not tell us much about the individual besides she was present during a terror attack, she used her phone and has a Muslim appearance.
The narrative being spun in its service by a considerable number of people online is uncharitable at best and outright prejudiced at worse.
Could she have been ringing an ambulance? Answering the call of a panicked loved one who had just turned on the news? Being ushered off the bridge by officials during the evacuation? To my mind, she appears to look upset/distressed.
Can anyone hazard a guess as to why these individuals haven’t been singled out for scorn in this manner?
There are a number of perfectly reasonable explanations for these images. To assume the lowest possible motive based on nothing more than the presence of a (probable) hijab is the definition of prejudice.
Imagine if you will, getting caught up in the horrific events at Westminster in which 4 people have now been confirmed dead. Scores of others remain seriously injured – some with ‘catastrophic’ injuries. Try for a moment to contemplate not only being amongst that utter horror, but discovering that a single, unrevealing, photograph of you is being used to denigrate your entire character based on little more than your Muslim appearance and a contextless phone conversation.
I imagine (and hope) we shall hear more about this lady’s story in the coming days.
We should be stern in the face of Islamic theocracy encroaching on our society in whatever form it takes. We should also refuse to flinch in our opposition to Islamists. It’s my suggestion that these principles will become diluted if we lose our sense of fairness and compassion along the way.
My thoughts are with everyone affected by this latest atrocity.
UPDATE 23 March 2017
An image captured around the same time has been now emerged. You can make up your own mind as to whether this is the face of a person unmoved by the situation. I hope this will serve as a lesson to those who shamelessly spun this for their own agendas.
UPDATE 24 March 2017 – The Freelance photographer who took these photos is called Mr. Lorrimon and has spoken to the Mail Online about the images. As reported there:
Speaking to MailOnline, the freelance photographer originally from Barnsley, South Yorkshire, said: ‘I was underneath the bridge taking pictures of Parliament when I saw something being rescued from the river.
‘I now know that it was the body of the woman who either jumped or fell from Westminster Bridge.
‘I was only on the bridge for a couple of minutes and I saw a woman lying on the floor after being hit.
Mr Lorriman, who lives in London, added: ‘I saw dozens of people walk past and the woman on the phone had just come from the part of the bridge where most of the victims were struck.
‘That is why she clearly looks mortified and it is obvious that she is in shock. The woman would have seen people under buses – she had just walked past the worst of it.
‘She wasn’t the only one walking past injured people and it looked like she just wanted to get off the bridge as quickly as possible.
‘I took three photographs where you can see the woman and I think she looks distressed in all of them.’
I think this pretty much aligns with what most decent people were thinking anyway.
UPDATE #2 – 24 March 2017 – The lady depicted in the viral images has now released the below statement via Tell Mama:
“I’m shocked and totally dismayed at how a picture of me is being circulated on social media. To those individuals who have interpreted and commented on what my thoughts were in that horrific and distressful moment, I would like to say not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I’ve also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia.
My thoughts at that moment were one of sadness, fear, and concern. What the image does not show is that I had talked to other witnesses to try and find out what was happening, to see if I could be of any help, even though enough people were at the scene tending to the victims. I then decided to call my family to say that I was fine and was making my way home from work, assisting a lady along the way by helping her get to Waterloo station. My thoughts go out to all the victims and their families. I would like to thank Jamie Lorriman, the photographer who took the picture, for speaking to the media in my defence”.
It’s an utter travesty that such a statement was made necessary. It is to the shame of everyone who circulated this image in a negative manner.