There’s No Justification For Finsbury Park Terrorism

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When I first launched my Taking The Myth podcast as a companion piece to the regular interviews, the idea was to bring listeners a regular dose of sceptical discussion without an emphasis on religion. The odd deconstruction of homeopathic claims here, a debunking of a ‘ghost sighting’ there coupled with some reporting on scientific innovation.

I didn’t foresee just how intense Europe’s collision with fundamentalist Islam would become, and as a result the show has more or less become the ‘what horrible thing has been done in the name of Islam this week’ show. I make no apologies for being preoccupied with one of the most pressing issues of our time, but at the end of the latest episode released yesterday, I tentatively asked my co-host Iram what atrocities we could expect before our next opportunity to record, such is their depressing frequency. A podcast on Islamic extremism can unfortunately become out of date in the time it takes you to hit ‘release’.

Well, as it stands, we have had a man arrested outside an army base in the West Midlands in possession of knives and an axe, a man has driven a car of explosives into a police car in France and a vehicle has been deliberately ploughed into a crowd of Muslim worshippers in London. That’s what has transpired since hitting ‘release’, which is barely 24 hours ago. I’m not even sure where we will be by the time I hit ‘publish’ on this blog.

What separates this last act of terror from the others it that it was not an act of Islamic extremism, but rather an act of anti-Muslim terrorism. Today, it has been reported that Darren Osborne, 47 of Cardiff drove a rented truck into worshippers outside Finsbury Park Mosque. One person has been killed, with ten others injured. Two of which have been described as ‘serious’. The suspect was reported to have said “I’m going to kill Muslims” upon his apprehension.

In a remarkable display of restraint in an unthinkable situation, a number of Muslims at the scene shielded the suspect from an angry crowd until the police arrived.

I’ve been incredibly critical of the ‘backlash’ narrative in the past. It’s a narrative that somehow takes centre stage each time a Muslim kills large scores of non-Muslims. I’ve always felt it was fairly outrageous to focus on a potential secondary issue that never seemed to actually manifest when we have a very really primary issue still bleeding us in the face.

In a densely populated, mostly non-Muslim society, I’ve always been surprised that no-one has carried out a like-for-like attack on Muslim citizens. Surely in such a large population of non-Muslims, we must have a statistically sufficient quota of violent anti-Muslim lunatics with some terrible ideas about ‘justice’? But no comparable ‘backlash’ against Muslims ever seemed to come. This reality has always been a great source of relief and pride for me. British society was just better and stronger than the nefarious elements that hoped to destroy it.

I have to let go of that pride today as it appears a British non-Muslim has done the unthinkable and attempted to murder large scores of innocent Muslim civilians, seemingly due to one single fact: they are Muslim. We will know more details about Darren Osborne and his motivations in the coming days. My only hope is that this is a one-off atrocity, rather than a sign of things to come.

There can be no equivocation on this act of terror. Any talk of ‘legitimate grievances’ or ‘an eye for an eye’ will not do. This inexcusable violence must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. No ‘ifs’. No ‘buts’.

If you catch anyone trying to justify this disgusting act of terror, don’t let them get away with it. Please speak up. It has never been more necessary to be vocally critical of Islamism. Likewise, we must not be complacent about the hate that appears to be boiling over on the anti-Muslim far-right. Stand strong in the middle of both extremes and refuse to give an inch to either.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.

18 comments

  • moleatthecounter

    Well said, strong words, 100% agree sir.

    • I agree. However Stephens comment
      “In a densely populated, mostly non-Muslim society, I’ve always been surprised that no-one has carried out a like-for-like attack on Muslim citizens. Surely in such a large population of non-Muslims, we must have a statistically sufficient quota of violent anti-Muslim lunatics with some terrible ideas about ‘justice’? But no comparable ‘backlash’ against Muslims ever seemed to come”
      is pertinent here. This is an isolated incident which hopefully will not be repeated. Nonetheless the left liberal comments which greet every extremist attack – “We must remain calm and go about our business as usual and remember that this is all our fault for our oppressive policies in the past” infuriates many fair, decent minded people.

    • And ditto – Well said!

    • A lone “white” non-muslim has committed the first meaningful act of reciprocal terror directed against muslims in the UK. Opining over whether it was morally justified or not is utterly ridiculous and smacks of pretentious moral grandstanding also known as “virtue signalling”. No sane individual, far right or otherwise, is calling for the murder of muslims in the UK. What’s relevant here and speaks to how we understand and respond to this event is how the perpetrator justified this criminal act to himself.

      Your tendency to grasp onto and overplay those extremely rare instances of genuine (ie. not fake) blowback against an ongoing litany of Islamic-inspired atrocities also reveals your moral cowardice: “I have to let go of that [British] pride today”. Whatever happened to “not all British”? This double standard is absurd and moreso given that being British is not a choice. How do you take “pride” for a label you have no control over?

      I also want to point out that the real “far right” in the UK is a neutered species. Deliberately mislabelling individuals as “far right” when they legitimately criticise Islam (yes and muslims too) does not diminish their arguments, and nor will it protect you from the same charge.

      PS. Definition of moral grandstanding: “One grandstands when one makes a contribution to public moral discourse that aims to convince others that one is “morally respectable.” By this we mean that grandstanding is a use of moral talk that attempts to get others to make certain desired judgments about oneself, namely, that one is worthy of respect or admiration because one has some particular moral quality—for example, an impressive commitment to justice, a highly tuned moral sensibility, or unparalleled powers of empathy. To grandstand is to turn one’s contribution to public discourse into a vanity project.” – Tosi et al

      • Stephen Knight

        Hi

        Nothing of what you have said appears to map onto what I’ve written here, or anywhere else. I will address your confusion point by point:

        ‘Opining over whether it was morally justified or not is utterly ridiculous…’

        I was not opining over whether it was ‘morally justified or not’, I was categorically, unequivocally saying it isn’t. I was also calling on people to challenge those who attempt to justify it. As there are actually people doing this. I won’t put up with Muslims justifying terror and I won’t put up with non-Muslims doing it either.

        ‘and smacks of pretentious moral grandstanding also known as “virtue signalling”’

        This is simply an uncharitable assessment. I spend *most* of my time attacking Islamists and their apologists. To not be seen as a ‘virtue signaller’ on this instance of non-Islamic terror, should I have just ignored it and not issued any sort of condemnation? Please detail what one is reasonably allowed to think and write on this topic without being accused of ‘virtue signalling’.

        ‘What’s relevant here and speaks to how we understand and respond to this event is how the perpetrator justified this criminal act to himself’

        How can that be ‘relevant’ at this point in time, given we did not have this information at the time of my writing, and we still do not have it now? I suppose it makes much more sense for me to wait and just let people assume I secretly endorse the murder. What IS relevant here (my blog), is whatever I choose to write about. Feel free to write about what you feel is relevant.

        ‘Your tendency to grasp onto and overplay those extremely rare instances of genuine (ie. not fake) blowback against an ongoing litany of Islamic-inspired atrocities also reveals your moral cowardice’

        ‘Tendency’? Where? Again. I spend *most* of my time criticising Islamism. You mustn’t be aware of this fact so simply took a chance with this accusation. This comment is especially odd when you consider the piece of writing you are attempting to criticise contains this paragraph: ‘I’ve been incredibly critical of the “backlash” narrative in the past. It’s a narrative that somehow takes centre stage each time a Muslim kills large scores of non-Muslims. I’ve always felt it was fairly outrageous to focus on a potential secondary issue that never seemed to actually manifest when we have a very really primary issue still bleeding us in the face’ – including a link of me rubbishing the ‘backlash narrative’.

        How can I be of the view that blowback never seems to manifest, and have a tendency to ‘overplay’ it at the same time? I even said I “hope this is a one-off atrocity”. This is overplaying? Care to retract this blatant falsehood about a ‘tendency to overplay’ instances of ‘blowback’? As it’s quite clear that I’m a critic of the ‘blowback’ narrative.

        ‘Whatever happened to “not all British”? This double standard is absurd and moreso given that being British is not a choice. How do you take “pride” for a label you have no control over?’

        Who said anything about ‘all British’ people? Or British people at all? I never even said I was proud to ‘be British’, or no longer proud to be as a result of this attack. I said I was proud to be part of a society (Britain) in which it was a fact that no one in said society had ever engaged in a ‘like-for-like’ attack on Muslim citizens. Since that’s no longer a fact, I can’t well still be proud of it now, can I?

        ‘Deliberately mislabelling individuals as “far right” when they legitimately criticise Islam (yes and muslims too) does not diminish their arguments, and nor will it protect you from the same charge’

        Where have I done this? That charge DOES come my way. As someone with a large platform and a lot of critical views on Islam, I’d wager I understand this point better than you do. It’s precisely one of the reasons I’ve never labelled someone ‘far-right’ simply because they ‘legitimately criticise Islam’. You do realise the blog is about a man who used a vehicle to try and murder scores of innocent Muslims, right? I’d submit this doesn’t fall into the category of ‘legitimate criticism’. Is this a non-sequitur? Given it’s not relevant, shall I uncharitably interpret it as ‘virtue signalling’? ‘Not all critics of Islam’ etc.

        I appreciate you taking the time to comment. But it’s not that you disagree with my views – it’s that you’ve invented some for me.

  • I think it’s pretty obvious that the mosque attack is not what it seems.
    The man who died had already collapsed before the van came near the crowd. All other injuries are minor (according to reports).
    If you look at the pictures of the driver he has been beaten to a pulp, which is why he looks drunk in the arrest video (so much for protecting him). And there are no witnesses to the attack other than mosque attendees (at least none I have seen).
    Dodgy as hell.

    • Stephen Knight

      Take your conspiracies somewhere else

      • Which part is a conspiracy? All of the facts I listed were on abc.com.au (the unabashedly pro Muslim, left-wing Australian public news broadcaster)

        • Stephen Knight

          It’s your inference from the facts that is conspiratorial. Unless you’re saying ABC is claiming this attack is ‘dodgy’ & ‘not what it seems’. Meaning what exactly? They faked it? They’re lying?

          • All I’m saying is, the facts look dodgy when compared to what is being claimed about the attack, we will see if it turns out to be a deliberate attack, a run-of-the-mill traffic accident that has been misrepresented, or anything in between. But yes, I believe the witnesses *could* be lying (the same as many of the claims of other “victims” of anti-Muslim hate crimes have evaporated into hoaxes) and for the obvious motive, the “Muslims are victims” narrative that gets brought up with every attack (even the attacks by Islamic extremists against the west).

            Of course, as more facts come to light if it does turn out to be a purposeful attack on the Muslim community, then I agree it should be condemned as a “hate” crime at that point. I certainly do not think it can be called terrorism in any case, and it would take a lot of extra facts to make me call it such. I also dislike the term hate-crime, because a crime is a crime and crimes are often committed out of hate, I’ve only used it here to differentiate it from terrorism, which is far more than just crime it’s a coordinated series of attacks for political ends, which this certainly doesn’t seem to be. (Media has announced that the attacker was not a known extremist, nor had any ties to extreme groups that they’ve found and therefore this cannot be called terrorism, so far at least).

          • Let’s just say there’s plenty of precedent for the last one.

            But, if it does turn out to be a purposeful attack on the Muslim community, then I would express the same thoughts as in your post.

            (I had a fair bit more written but it got lost in the ether when I tried to post it the first time, the above sums it up.)

  • Stephen, thank you as always for your wise words. Your response is intelligent and sane, and highlights your compassion, awareness and wonderful sense of what is right.

  • With rabid frothing at the mouth idiots on both sides, your podcast and blog are refreshing havens for good sense, nuance and level-headed analysis. Thank you

  • Totally agree with the ‘No ifs & no buts’ comment particularly. There can be no excuse for harming innocent people under any circumstances.

    • Despicable hate crime. No ifs. But it’s not terrorism. I cringe at the use of the term for this sort of nasty shit. Moral equivaalism helps noone and just foments more resentment.

  • I broadly agree. I also believe that there is absolutely no justification for this kind of behaviour. Nevertheless, it cam to my attention today, that one of the current leaders of the Finsbury Park Mosque is Dr Azzam Tamimi who can been seen here expressing his view that Israel is a cancer which must be eradicated.
    Being (ex) Israeli, I take these threats to heart and find it extremely un-nerving that just down the road from me (yes, I live close to FP) is a mosque whose leaders have expressed the wish to wipe out of existence the country I grew up in, which I still love and in which most of my friends and family live.

    Here he is:

What do you think? Leave some comments!