I saw it first on social media. “Explosion at Manchester arena kills numerous, injures dozens”. Photos and videos from the scene showed utter chaos, with people running and screaming in different directions, desperate to escape the carnage.
The news coverage over the past couple of days has brought to light more horrific details of the attack. So far over 22 people have died and 59 others are still suffering from serious injuries. One of the victims, Saffie Rose Roussos, was just 8 years old. Numerous others are still missing and as friends and family search amongst the injured and lost, their pain on-going.
The community in Manchester has come together during this tough time, with cab drivers giving free rides to those at the site, doctors operating on those needing urgent surgery, the public queuing to give blood and the heart wrenching story of a homeless man who cradled an injured woman in his arms as she passed away. Many of these individuals were Muslims, who went out to help and aid their neighbours at a time of crisis.
People leave tributes and light candle by City Hall in Manchester for victims of the Manchester
The claim that this atrocity was committed for the sake of Islam is nothing more than that, a claim, by a group that has repeatedly killed Muslims and non-Muslims, no distinction made. ISIS has nothing to do with Islam; this is well known and can be seen through the numerous condemnations of their acts by Islamic scholars and active community members.
Nevertheless, there are those who would use this terrible attack to divide people further, and seek to blame Islam and the wider Muslim community for this incident. Reports of mosques being attacked and veiled Muslim women being abused in the streets have already circulated online, amongst calls for Muslims to be wary of hatred and harassment. Little do these people know that Islam NEVER justifies attacking innocent people; there is no such thing as “collateral damage” in our religion.
We must recognise that whilst the death of innocents is a terrible tragedy, using it justify attacks on other innocent people is unacceptable. This is not belittling the horror that has befallen those in Manchester; rather it is ensuring that no one else has to suffer due to the ignorance and prejudice of others. Islamophobia is real and it is never justified.
At the same time, the various attempts to link this attack to Islam or religious Muslims must be countered; and instead expose these attacks for the depraved, senseless acts they are. Muslims in Britain should speak out strongly against such violence, but should not let the narrative purported by the media scare us into changing our Islamic way of life, that is targeted by politicians every time such events happen, ironically exposing the contradictions in the rights and freedoms they pretend to be upholding.
Our condolences are with the families of those injured in the attack. May everyone be protected from such violence, that destroys families and tears communities apart.