The horrendous murder of a British soldier – Lee Rigby – savaged on the streets of south east London yesterday, sparked an outcry across social media that I don’t think I’ve quite seen before in this country. A backlash that threatened to spill over into violent clashes on the streets. This is the dark side of social media. And it came from two extremes, with equally as repugnant statements.
The far right Nationalists used the attack, to highlight their hate for all Muslims, and in fact, anyone with slightly darker skin, as a group. They, in their ignorance, seem to be under the impression that a fringe Al-Shabaab supporting maniac, is somehow a perfect representation of British Muslims as a whole. They took to the streets, disgustingly attacking Mosques and shouting abuse at anyone who doesn’t fit their narrow band of what is deemed correct. Upon social media, they issued thinly veiled, as well as quite blatant threats, alongside vicious racism, that in my mind, can only be described as inflicting terror also:
But it wasn’t just the far right Nationalists who vented their propaganda, and hate. Then came the apologists, and their predictable attempts to deflect blame from the guilty, onto the West in general. Unwilling to accept or even acknowledge that Al-Shabaab are responsible for murdering innocent Muslims also. They instead choose to over simplify the World, into two camps: Islam v Enemies of Islam – much the same way that the EDL do, only a little more subtle with their tactics. As if believing in the same God as people you’ve never met, in a country thousands of miles away, is some sort of justification for senseless murder. The victim mentality:
Thankfully, the majority of social media remarks upon the murder in Woolwich, were both respectful and decent, from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, focusing on the murdered soldier. This marked the difference between moderates, and extremes quite intensely. The moderates seemed entirely focused on expressing shock and sorrow at the loss of a life in such a brutal manner. Those on the extremes, did not seem too interested in the loss of life, and the unthinkable tragedy his family have just had inflicted upon them, choosing instead to focus on either how much they dislike all Muslims, or how things like this only happen, because of British foreign policy. It seemed an easy way for the extremes to score very cheap and easy points.
No doubt the motives will be discussed, there will be those who claim Islamic extremism is fostered entirely by Western foreign policy, being as they tend to be, so naively unable to accept that negative and wholly unacceptable interpretations of their own faith might shoulder some blame. There will be those who claim to be “defending” England, without accepting that the terror they apparently deplore, they themselves are guilty of handing out, frightening decent Muslim men, women and children who have done nothing wrong. But it is important to remember that at the heart of this entire situation, is a family who have lost a loved one, in such a horrendous manner. I feel for the Muslim community of Woolwich over the next few days and weeks. The possible violent and completely unjustified retribution against an innocent community, is shocking to the rest of us, but terrifying to the people living it.
“An extremely popular and witty soldier, Drummer Rigby was a larger than life personality within the Corps of Drums and was well known, liked and respected across the Second Fusiliers”
– MoD statement.
I feel for the family of Lee Rigby, of 2nd Battalion the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who so heartbreakingly leaves behind a 2 year old son, and who, in the most tragic circumstances, lost his life yesterday.