“The stabbing in Streatham, South London on Sunday 2 February is condemned. Our thoughts are with the families of two people injured and all those affected by this latest terrorist attack in Britain.
The terrible attack, by a convicted criminal, shows the twisted mindset of the extremists who are prepared to abuse the rights and liberties they enjoy to attack the freedom of others and the values that Britian represents.
As an Imam, my messge is clear: the path to violence is a path to death and destruction of oneself and others, which is absolutely contrary to Islam. There is no ‘martydom’ in taking innocent lives. The continued targeting of fellow citizens fills me with utter revulsion. Terrorism has no place in our country.
Speaking about terrorism and blaming all Muslims, as some people are already doing on social media, not only displays irrationality, but reveals that some people cannot see beyond their own prejudice. Such scaremongering and spreading anti-Muslim hatred must be called out.
We Muslims must also acknowledge that ‘Islamist’ terrorists use religious rhetoric and concepts to manipulate young people’s personal, social and political grievances to turn them into ‘martyrs’. The perpetrators are ideologically driven. This phenomena is not new and over the centuries many religious zealots – across different religions – have been using this mechanism to recruiting people to fight for their causes, irrespective of how evil those causes may be.
The extremists depend on Islamic concepts for their identity, their interpretation of those concepts is anything but orthodox. We Muslims must not allow Islam to be abused by such extremists for their violent intents. Our collective voice must drown out those who wish to spread hatred and sow division in our society.
As government’s advsior on Islamophobia, I have also been reassuring British Muslims who are understandably worried that this violent attack will increase hatred against Muslims. I urge communities to stand together against hatred and intolerance and confront all those who promote an ideology and philosophy based on hate and terror.
We owe the Met Police a huge debt for all that they do to keep us safe. However, given the perpetrator Sudesh Amman was under surveillance, having been convicted for terrorism offences, the authorities will need to consider how they can prevent any further attacks by recently released extremists.
As the shape of terrorism is changing, the authorities should consider whether the length of sentences for terror related offences is appropriate. This is the second terrorist attack in the last three months to have been committed by a perpetrator convicted of terrorism offences and recently released from prison. We therefore need to revisit de-radicalisation programmes in prisons and reasses their efficacy.
For now our focus must be the victims of the terrorist attack in Streatham, and communities resolutely standing together against those who wish to divide us.”