Four people died in a horrific attack near the House of Commons yesterday, Wednesday. A man deliberately drove a car into pedestrians, killed a police officer and then was shot dead by police.
More than 40 other people were wounded.
Ordinary people rushed to help and Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, the chair of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors’ committee, was the first doctor on the scene.
But racists and Islamophobes are lining up to use the tragedy for their own foul ends. The Nazi group Britain First, whose name was shouted by Thomas Mair as he murdered Jo Cox MP, has called a demonstration.
Donald Trump junior, the US president’s eldest son, tweeted a link to a newspaper story in which London mayor Sadiq Khan said terror attacks were “part and parcel of living in a big city”.
Trump gave the impression this was Khan’s response yesterday when in fact it was a general remark from September last year.
There will be more attempts to use the shock and pain of the killings to divide working people, justify more wars and whip up Islamophobia.
It is vital now that anti-racists redouble their efforts to stop the spread of division and hate. Stand Up To Racism has called a unity vigil in London tomorrow.
Azad Ali from Muslim Engagement and Development (Mend) spoke to Socialist Worker. He said, “The right wing press and media are always racist towards Muslims and Islam.
“We’ve seen before that that there is a backlash against Muslims—and people are feeling anxious that there is going to be one again.
He added, “We don’t want any hate within our communities, particularly against Muslims.
“This is a time to come together, that’s why we’ve jointly called a vigil with Stand Up To Racism on Friday night.”
And as usual, a slew of misinformation has surrounded the tragedy.
For almost an hour several media outlets, including Channel 4 news, confidently named a well-known Islamist as the perpetrator of the attack. That theory fell down when his solicitor confirmed the person named was in jail.
The police have said the attacker was “known to counter-terrorism officials”. The Metropolitan police’s head of counter-terrorism, Mark Rowley, said the motivation of the attacker was assumed to be “Islamist related”.
There has been much talk of the wonders of British democracy.
Theresa May, in Margaret Thatcher-Winston Churchill mode, proclaimed, “These streets of Westminster—home to the world’s oldest Parliament—are engrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe.
“And the values our Parliament represents—democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law—command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere.”
May is using people’s deaths for political profit.
We do not know the motivation of this particular attack. But it is inescapable that the war, torture, plunder and invasions backed by the British parliament and the government’s allies have created the conditions in which such horrors are certain to take place.
The shattering of Iraq and Afghanistan, the oppression of the Palestinians and many other imperial projects cast long shadows.
The day before the Westminster attack, an airstrike by the US-led coalition on a school in Syria killed at least 33 people.
Last Thursday another US strike on a mosque complex in the north-west of the country killed at least 42 people.
More repression will not stop attacks here. There had been a state of emergency for months in France when a man drove a lorry into people in Nice killing 86.
Instead of backing our rulers, let’s unite against racism and Islamophobia.