The horrific murder of a man in London yesterday afternoon has shocked Britain and much of the world. Two armed men ran over, then decapitated an unarmed soldier near his army barracks in Woolwich, South East London, in broad daylight. An eyewitness described a horrendous ordeal where the victim was dragged into the middle of the road, and literally hacked up like a piece of meat as people walked by.
The murderers committed the crime in the name of Islam, apparently shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is the greatest) as they bludgeoned the victim with machetes and a meat cleaver. After the crime, one of the assailants told a passerby with a cell phone camera, “We must fight them as they fight us. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. I apologise that women have had to witness this today, but in our land our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government, they don’t care about you.”
Armed police arrived on the scene and the two men reportedly brandished guns and charged the police. They were both shot, sustained serious injuries, then taken to hospital where they remain under heavily armed security. The government fears that the attacks may have been part of a broader assault with possible links to al-Qaeda, and are busy holding high level meetings to figure out how best to deal with it.
The murder was clearly designed to shock - the two men were looking for a fight, telling a passerby that "We want to start a war in London tonight." And it looks like they are getting one. In response to the attacks, the ultra right-wing EDL (English Defense League) organized protests and attacks on Mosques around the country, fueling fears of race riots and civil unrest. Given the nature of the murder and the already volatile economic crisis in the UK, it is highly likely they will continue.
There is a sad truism that whenever an act of violence occurs, extreme elements will always react to it. We attack Iraq and Afghanistan, we get terrorism at home. When we get terrorism at home, extreme elements react again ensuring the cycle of violence and intolerance never ends.
It is incredibly easy to lose perspective after a horrendous tragedy. Emotions take over reasoning, and rash decisions can be made that do nothing other than make a bad situation worse.
It should be remembered that the vast majority of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world do not go around hacking people's heads off in the name of Allah, just as the vast majority of 2.2 billion Christians don't go around torturing people into converting. The Muslim community in Britain condemned the attack in London immediately, in the most withering and explicit terms. The Muslim Council of Britain issued a statement saying:
"This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn this unreservedly. Our thoughts are with the victim and his family. We understand the victim is a serving member of the armed forces. Muslims have long served in this country’s armed forces, proudly and with honour. This attack on a member of the armed forces is dishonourable, and no cause justifies this murder.
This action will no doubt heighten tensions on the streets of the United Kingdom. We call on all our communities, Muslim and non-Muslim, to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail. It is important we allow our police authorities to do their job without speculation. We also urge the utmost vigilance and ask the police authorities to calm tensions."
To most Muslims, the murderers responsible for the depraved attack on an innocent man have nothing to do with Islam. They practice a religion that promotes community, charity, spirituality and respect for the law. Extreme acts of violence have no place in true Islam, just as they have no place in true Christianity or Judaism.
Pastor Fred Phelps and his goons from Westboro Baptist Church picket the funerals of dead soldiers in the name of Christ, but they are not Christians. Zionist Jews kill Palestinians in their own land, and they are not Jews. The men who killed the soldier in London yesterday are not Muslims. They are violent murderers who committed an act of terror in the name of a religion they know nothing about. And they should not be confused with anything else.