If anyone needs further proof that terrorism is an equal opportunity employer, the Finsbury Park Mosque attack provides it. Early Monday morning 47-year old Darren Osborne, a white British subject, drove his van into a crowd of Muslims as they left a Ramadan prayer service injuring 11 people, two of them seriously. He then got out of his van and allegedly shouted, “I want to kill Muslims.” To her credit, Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack unequivocally, not as a hate crime, but as an “act of terror.”
The attack comes less than two weeks after a similar incident in which Muslim men rammed pedestrians on London Bridge and then went on a knifing spree. Today’s attack may have been a bizarre form of retaliation. The perpetrators in both attacks fit the pattern of the lone-wolf terrorist as does the man who murdered two people on a Portland train last month.
In the midst of these horrors, some people showed tremendous courage and compassion. The Imam at the Finsbury Park Mosque intervened to make sure no one harmed Osborne after members of his congregation detained him. The two men murdered on the Portland train died defending a Muslim woman from a White supremacist.
These attacks reveal a number of important truths. No religion has a monopoly on hatred or love. Every faith has produced followers capable of perverting its teachings in the interests of violence and bigotry. Every religion produces saints, men and women who embody its best principles. The attacks also reveal that words kill. Every society has a significant number of unstable people awaiting a call to arms to focus their irrational fears and bigotry on an available target. Those who traffic in Islamic extremism like those who spout Islamaphobia share responsibility for the violence they inspire.