Britain responds to the far-right trying to whip up hatred after the Westminster attack
by Lamiat Sabin and Steve Sweeney
FAR-RIGHT efforts to exploit the Westminster attack yesterday were overshadowed by calls for unity.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, London’s first Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan, Stand Up to Racism, anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate and the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) urged British people to resist being divided by racial and religious hatred.
Mr Khan was expected to hold a candlelit vigil for the victims yesterday evening in Trafalgar Square.
Despite wide condemnation of the attack from the Muslim community, including from MCB which described it as “cowardly and depraved,” Stand Up to Racism said that fascist mob Britain First has already jumped to “call a march in London to spew their racism, hatred and division.”
Mr Corbyn urged people not to rush to judgement about Wednesday’s incident in which four people died — a policeman, a teacher from Spain, a tourist from the US and the attacker.
A Kent-born man — named as 52-year-old Khalid Masood, who had a history of convictions including for assault, weapon possession and public order offences — drove a rented car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing it into the fence around Parliament.
He then ran into an out-of-bounds area of the parliamentary estate where he fatally stabbed one officer and tried to attack another before being shot several times by police.
The Labour leader paid tribute to Keith Palmer — the officer who was stabbed to death — the security services and NHS workers who took care of the injured and dying.
“We are united by our humanity and by our democratic values and by that human impulse of solidarity to stand together in times of darkness and adversity.”
His sentiments were shared by Mr Khan. Speaking on Sky News, the London mayor said that such attackers “hate the fact that in London, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, Hindus, those who are members of organised faith and those who aren’t, don’t simply tolerate each other, we respect each other, we celebrate each other, we embrace each other.
“They hate the fact that we’ve got elections and elected politicians that go about their job making laws, they hate the fact that we’ve got a free press, they hate the fact that we’re such a vibrant, successful city.
“In the past we have risen, we’ve shown our resilience, we’ve returned to work and returned to normality. We have done it in the past and we will do it again now.”
The Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend), a community-funded NGO dedicated to tackling Islamophobia, expressed shock and sorrow over the incident and paid tribute to the emergency services.
“The Palace of Westminster is the centre of our democracy and we must all ensure that it continues to serve our country and its people with safety and security.”
Hope Not Hate wrote in a statement: “In the coming hours and days, there will be some who call for more hatred. Who want nothing more than to meet violence with violence. That is the path to ruin.”
These statements were made after the former leader of far-right group the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, took to the streets of Westminster to spread hate against Muslims.
Later, in a video he filmed while his car broke down on his way home from London, he said: “Why are you [Muslims] feeling intimidated? No-one’s driving cars into you. No-one’s raping your daughters.”
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage also sunk to a new low when he blamed support for multiculturalism for creating a “fifth column” of terror supporters in Western societies.
He blamed former prime minister Tony Blair for wanting to build a multicultural Britain. And he praised US President Donald Trump for trying to implement his Muslim ban.
In a bizarre string of Facebook comments, Cambridge Labour county councillor Peter Sarris called for the introduction of internment — the detention of people without trial, as was used against Irish Catholic and nationalist communities during the Troubles.
Stand Up to Racism and Mend have called a vigil outside Downing Street at 6pm today.