There were many other messages like that: ordinary Londoners, offering up their homes for people in and around the two areas affected, for sanctuary and assistance. It’s that kind of compassionate spirit in the face of crass criminality that shows the best side in London
and the best of Britain.
The first impetus of our ally with whom we share a supposed special relationship wasn’t to express condolences to the United Kingdom. Rather, it was to use the attacks as a way to garner support for his travel ban — which many still believe to be a coded Muslim ban, similar to the one he suggested he would implement during the election campaign.
It’s a ban that the American courts have consistently struck down. But that didn’t stop Trump from trying to exploit this tragedy. which took the lives of seven and injured dozens more.
He continued to take advantage of the event this morning, tweeting odd statements about political correctness and gun control.
We saw this kind of tasteless commentary from the likes of Katie Hopkins, a controversial British broadcaster, whose “final solution” remark following the Manchester attack led to her no longer being on British radio.
She wasted no time in tweeting Islamophobic slides
under the cynical hashtag of “NothingToDoWithIslam.” This was about Islam en masse, not just radical or extremist Islamists.
And we’ve seen it in the appalling comments directed at Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London. For some, the fact that Khan is a Muslim is evidence that he is not fit to protect the city of London. Some of the attacks on the mayor are outright Islamophobic; others are more subtle. But it’s worth noting that a number of these messages were sent as replies to a tweet sent by the President criticizing Khan.
In this divisive climate, Muslim Britons are being attacked twice: as Brits by the terrorists and as Muslims in the backlash.
Of course, the irony is that is precisely what ISIS and other radical groups are after: a civilizational cultural war being fought on the streets of London, Paris and Berlin and elsewhere.
Even the timing of the attack hints at this. Muslims are currently observing the fasting month of Ramadan. Many Muslims will go to the mosque to break their fasts and pray at sunset, and many of them will go to the mosque a little later on to pray extra Ramadan prayers.
The attacks began just after 10 p.m., a little after the breaking of the fast, which means many Muslims would have been on the streets going home after the evening meal, or a little before the beginning of the extra Ramadan prayers. In either case, there would be potentially a large number of observant Muslims on the streets at that time of night.
If one wanted to encourage conflict between Muslims and non-Muslims in the UK, this would be a sensible time to do it.
That’s precisely what ISIS and other radicals aim for, and after each attack, people are reminded of their base motivations. And yet so many of us fall into the terrorists’ trap and becoming willing, if unwitting, partners in hate-mongering.
The reality is we cannot be complacent, but we cannot ignore reality.
ISIS, for example, is actually losing territory in Iraq and Syria. As the group’s dream of controlling enough territory to declare a bona fide caliphate fades, ISIS will revert to being a more “regular” terrorist group. That means we can only expect more attempts to cause societal rupture in the West.
The morning after the attacks, British Prime Minister Theresa May insisted “enough is enough,” and that we needed to reevaluate our counter-terrorism strategy and work harder to stamp out Islamist extremism, which she claimed has received too much tolerance in our country.
As someone who has been engaged in critiquing Islamist extremism for more than a decade, serving as the deputy convenor of the government task force on tackling radicalization and extremism in the aftermath of the 2005 7/7 bombings, I’m sympathetic. But I’m also cautious. We do need to reevaluate our strategy. We need more resources put into genuine intelligence gathering and the monitoring of those suspected radicals who return from overseas.
But at the same time, our counter-extremism policy has to be very carefully modulated. We must uphold our commitments to fundamental rights.
Focusing the debate around social cohesion and integration doesn’t help counter-terrorism. Indeed, it can make it much harder to do, by alienating large groups in our society. It is important to fully understand the inspirations behind Islamist extremism, and it is also vital we are not sloppy in how we link those ideas to Islam in general.
Far too many people are interested in using this threat to engage in a cultural conflict against our Muslim citizens. We should resist that temptation.
ISIS isn’t going anywhere just yet, but it’s clear the group is on its way downhill. Its biggest appeal for recruits was the holding of territory. But in the coming months, it is likely that ISIS will be routed from both Iraq and Syria.
I suspect we are seeing the end of ISIS, at least this version of it. But this could also be a major reason as to why terror attacks took place — the beginning of the phase of desperation for the group.
That phase could take awhile, but eventually, ISIS will go the same way as other cults in Muslim history.
In the meantime, Londoners do have to consider what measures are appropriate to deal with the increased threat, while ensuring that extremist dreams about a war of civilizations remain simply that: a nightmare in a nightmarish imagination.