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“There are thousands of other Darren Osbornes and it’s just a matter of time”

“There are thousands of other Darren Osbornes and it’s just a matter of time”

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday June 19 2018

Today, 19 June 2018, marks the one-year anniversary of the horrific Finsbury Park terrorist attack which resulted in the death of Makram Ali, 51, and resulted in serious injuries being afflicted to 12 others, as Darren Osborne, fuelled by Islamophobic-rhetoric, drove a van into a crowd of worshippers as they finished Tarawih prayers (Ramadan night prayers).

Osborne’s aim was to kill as many Muslims as possible and noted in his trial that killing the Mayor of London would have been like “winning the lottery”. However, the most grotesque aspect of the case was not the extent of his hatred, but was rather the speed at which he was radicalised to hold such vehemently Islamophobic notions and the support he received on social media subsequent to the attack.

Osborne’s trial, held in January 2018 at Woolwich Crown Court, heard how he transformed from a ‘non-racist’ ‘loner’ to a person capable of carrying out a terrorist attack in a matter of three weeks due to the influence of the media and far-right activists. Giving witness, his estranged partner, Sarah Andrews, told the jury of how the BBC’s documentary ‘Three girls’, a drama based on the true stories of young girls who were “victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale”, was decisive in his radicalisation.

The court further heard of the influence from actors such as Stephen Christopher Yaxley, commonly known by his pseudonym Tommy Robinson, and Jayda Fransen. Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC stated in the trial that the defendant received a “direct message” from Fransen and received an email from Yaxley, both of which heavily encouraged Osborne to engulf himself in far-right rhetoric.

Dean Haydon, head of Scotland Yard’s counter-extremism command, commented at the time, stating: “It was clear that in the space of only a few weeks Osborne had developed a warped and twisted view to such a degree that he was prepared to plan and carry out this attack”.

Osborne was sentenced in February 2018, for the murder of Makram Ali and the attempted murder of several others, with a minimum prison term of 43 years, with the judge noting that “this was a terrorist attack. You [Darren Osborne] intended to kill”.

Today, 19 June, The Rt Hon Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, amongst others gathered to condemn the actions of Osborne and praise the local community for showing resilience in the face of adversity.

However, whilst the Finsbury Park terrorist was locked away, the significant problem of Islamophobic hate crimes is still prevalent.

Speaking to The Independent, Toufik Kacimi, Chief Executive of the Muslim Welfare House (where the attack occurred), stated how the mosque has since received numerous hate letters containing white powder, that make horrific threats against Muslims. One letter said, “there are thousands of other Darren Osbornes and it’s just a matter of time” whilst another read “what Darren Osborne did was just the beginning, we will kill you all”.

Kacimi added: “A year on from the attack, I feel that the messages of hate are still very much there…whether it’s in London Bridge or Westminster or Manchester, terrorists are terrorists and they are a bunch of criminals and murderers…they want to divide us, they want to turn us against each other and tear us apart. We can’t allow them to do that”.

Indeed, locking up individuals without addressing the root causes of the problem are a short-term, ineffective cure. The root causes of the problem, namely the negative media representation of British Muslims, Islamophobic rhetoric being popularised by far-right activists, and politicians being all too hesitant in tackling Islamophobia, remain unaddressed.

Osborne was just a single manifestation of the problem, others being: Paul Moore, who in February 2018 was found guilty of the attempted murder of a Muslim woman and attempt to cause grievous bodily harm to a young Muslim schoolgirl; David Parnham, who was found guilty last week of soliciting to murder in connection with sending out the ‘Punish a Muslim Day’ letters; and Connor Ward, who was found guilty in April for planning terror attacks against Mosques in Scotland.

So, Osborne is not the only one to harbour such hatred against Muslims and not the only one willing to exercise that by committing atrocities. The Government, therefore, needs to address the root causes that give rise to Islamophobic sentiment in our society.

The Government needs to ensure it takes all religious hatred seriously, whether this be anti-Semitism in the Labour Party or Islamophobia in the Conservative Party. It needs to enact Part 2 of the Leveson Inquiry and introduce legislation that effectively deals with online hate speech. Otherwise the ominous words of hate letters will come true – “There are thousands of other Darren Osbornes and it’s just a matter of time”.

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