I clearly remember my commute home from work on the 22nd of May 2013. Checking for news on my smartphone, I read in horror as the gruesome and cowardly murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby began making headlines. My throat tightened as further details emerged – details confirming this was not some random encounter which had ended fatally. This was a planned act of Islamic Terrorism.
At the time, I was unaware Drummer Rigby was from my home city of Manchester, but knowing this gruesome act had played out on the instantly recognisable streets of London was enough to shake me up in a way that distant atrocities can’t always achieve for whatever reason. It shouldn’t matter – but knowing this could happen on an English street in broad daylight suddenly provided a new level of reality for Jihadism that I couldn’t quite handle emotionally. It was too close to home.
I came through my front door and instantly began sobbing for this person I’d never even met or knew existed moments ago, all fury and helplessness. The injustice of it. The pointlessness of it.
Nearly two years later and I’m sat in Euston train station in London, waiting for my 18:37 service back to Manchester. I’d been in the capital for The Secularist of The Year Awards where Charlie Hebdo magazine took the main prize. I remember having similar feelings to the above when seeing footage of gunmen running through Paris streets yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’. The problem is home. Read more