What we can learn from Finsbury Park

On Monday morning we woke up to the news that Muslims had been subjected to a vile terrorist attack by a lone wolf 47-year-old white man from Wales. He drove a white van into worshippers leaving their mosque in Finsbury Park, murdering one person and injuring ten others.

In the immediate aftermath, protocol was followed by newspapers when they called it an ‘incident’ in headlines, rather than a ‘terrorist attack’. It was protocol that has been followed in the London Bridge attack, the Manchester attack and the Westminster Bridge attack. They do this because nothing can be independently verified immediately.

However, we can learn something about the attack in how people responded to it. At first, many were hesitant to call it a terrorist attack. Some papers called the terrorist a ‘lone wolf’ and some called him the ‘mosque madman’. He is a terrorist, just like all of the others. And more and more people are starting to acknowledge that:

‘Terrorist’ definition: a person who uses terrorism in the pursuit of political aims.

This sick and vile attacker is not representative of the white British community, is he? No. Of course not. We don’t want to go round driving vans into Muslims (or anyone else, for that matter!).

We are so quick to deny him from our circle, but this begs the question of how we have treated Muslims over the past three months.

Of course mosques have a real role to play in rooting out extremism. No one is arguing against logic here. But what we must understand is that the so-called ‘Islamist’ terrorism we hate and loath is exactly the same as the far-right extreme terrorism we are the latest victims to.

What will we do to stop white British men from being radicalised to the point of terrorism? Where is this happening and how can it happen?

These are uncomfortable and awkward questions but we need them answering. We should, just as we expect Muslims to, try our best to root out far-right extremism and see it exactly for what it is: a perverse and sickening twist on what it means to be white, non-Muslim and British.

We stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters following this attack. It wasn’t just an attack on them, but on the British way of life.