A woman lays flowers in tribute outside of Finsbury Mosque, following Monday’s van attack on worshippers. AFP
The London Finsbury Park mosque attack was not unexpected. If it did not happen last Sunday, it was only an incident waiting to happen. That the attacker retaliated in kind is significant.
“This is war … We have the right to fight back,” Britain’s far right groups declared on social media in defence of Monday’s attack in which one worshipper was killed and ten were wounded. The attacker, a father of four, plowed a white van into worshippers when they were coming out of the mosque after late night Ramadan prayers. He wanted to kill all Muslims. The incident was a replica of attacks carried out by Isis terrorists in recent months in London and other European cities. The message is that right-wing extremists are able to operate like a mirror image of Isis.
Rise up and cast Islam out of Britain, urged far-right extremists in social media messages. A British user of the American white supremacist site Stormfront described the attack as “A protest against these disgusting pigs”.
The rise of far right groups in Europe has been a serious concern to authorities since Norwegian far right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik in two terror attacks on July 22, 2011 killed 77 people, mostly innocent youths at a summer camp.
True, the far-right United Kingdom Independent Party fared miserably at the June 8 British elections and in France, Marine Le Pen of the far right National Front failed to win the French presidential election in May. But in other European countries such as Hungary, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands and Greece, right wing political groups have made significant gains in recent years and their membership is rising. They see Muslims as enemies and Islam as a threat to their way of life. The enmity increases with every Isis terror attack.
Isis terrorists are not unaware that every terror act they commit will go to strengthen far-right groups. They surely know that their attacks will only make Muslims in the West a target of Islamophobes, who have become more aggressive following Britain’s Brexit vote. According to the Guardian newspaper, the number of Islamophobic attacks in Manchester went up fivefold in the week after the concert bombing, with 139 incidents reported to Tell Mama, a group recording Islamophobic crimes, compared to 25 incidents the previous week.
It appears that either there exists a secret deal between the Isis and the far-right groups or they want to start the clash of civilisations.
However, one cannot expect the West to be peaceful and terror-free when the West is mainly responsible for the bloody mayhem in the Middle East. The Palestinians have been suffering for 70 years, because Britain’s Balfour declaration made 100 years ago allowed the creation of Israel on Palestinian land. As a result of the West’s meddling in Libya, Syria and Iraq, tens of millions of people are going through untold hardships. Britain’s Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, an anti-war activist, could see it. In a statement following last month’s Manchester arena bomb attack, he said: “Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services, have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries and terrorism here at home.”
To combat terrorism, Prime Minister Theresa May, on the contrary, took a position similar to the far-right thinking. She threatened to tear up human rights laws, saying “If our human rights laws stop us from doing it, we will change the laws so we can do it.”
With democratic leaders making such outlandish statements, we are only accelerating our reverse journey towards barbarism. It should not be called a clash of civilisations, for the civlised are capable of avoiding violence. If at all, it will be a clash of those who have hijacked religion and turned it into an ideology for violence, hatred and intolerance.
The so-called Jihadists – call them khwarijs or those who have exited Islam – and the far-right supremacists want such a clash – an Armageddon of sorts between evil forces. One wants to nuke Makkah or kill all Muslims and the other wants to rid the world of all those who do not subscribe to the terrorists’ interpretation of Islam.
The silent majority the world over – like most Londoners -- long for a world order based on peace and justice, a world order sustained by a dialogue among civilisations. Cohabitation instead of conflict should be the way forward, but the forces of evil see violence and hatred as means to establish an iniquitous order with supremacists in control. Sadly, even in countries like Sri Lanka, India and Myanmar racist forces and bigots carry out their hate campaigns with impunity, with the State turning a blind eye to hate-mongering or lacking the political will to root out the evil.
Besides racist and extremist ideologies, there are other forces that work against a peaceful world order where pluralism is respected and unity in diversity is seen as strength. With a Donald Trump in Washington, a Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel and a King Salman in Saudi Arabia, the threat to a peaceful world order is, perhaps, at an all-time high.
Backed by white supremacists and surrounded by Islam-haters, Trump relishes anti-Muslim rhetoric. The only good Muslims for him are those who make deals with him – like the Gulf royals.
Since Trump’s election to power, anti-Muslim incidents have been rising at an alarming rate. He is quick to take to twitter to congratulate himself for taking an anti-Muslim posture whenever the so-called Islamic terror takes place. But he hardly condemns or is slow to condemn white supremacist attacks such as the Portland incident where two Americans died trying to protect two Muslim women from a knife-wielding white supremacist or the Finsbury Park attack.
Netanyahu, whom Trump and most US Congress members dutifully serve, represents Zionist supremacism while King Salman symbolises Sunni bigotry. The three extremist ideologies – white supremacy, Zionism and Sunni extremism --openly cooperate to sustain a conflict-ridden world order for the benefit of a few at the cost of seven billion people who suffer.
That supremacism and bigotry still exist indicates that civilisation has not kept pace with advancements human beings have made in science and technology. It appears that we are virtually still in the state of nature, which, according to the 18th century political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, is a “war of every man against every man,” a constant and violent condition of competition where existence is nasty, brutish, and short. Shakespeare said, in Julius Caesar, “O Judgment! Thou art fled to brutish beasts, and men have lost their reason!”