After the shock and horror of so many innocent lives lost, the faces of young people stare back at us reminding us that the brutality of IS was spread into the heart of Paris. The whole of our nation stood still and reflected and mourned with the people of France.
At this time, we must keep things in context and the reaction against British Muslims continues to be monitored by us and whilst reports have come in, many of them have involved threats and general abuse. The most violent case to date has been a serious assault to a couple who run a takeaway in Fife as they were set upon by a mob of 15 people. We must also ensure that we do not downplay this incident and no doubt, we look forward to arrests on this case by Police Scotland.
Yet, the reaction by members of the British public to anti-Muslim bigotry has been heartwarming. There are some groups who campaign against Islamophobia and who do not reflect the fact that many non-Muslims regularly stand up against anti-Muslim prejudice and do so out of a conviction that prejudice must be addressed and countered.
For example, we received a report by a member of the public who stated that he had, “witnessed some behaviour that I consider to be threats and abuse directed towards people based on the assumption that they were Muslim.”
The perpetrator boarded the train close to the Welsh border and was verbally aggressive and abusive to two Kuwaiti men, (aged 20-25), whom he mis-identified as Saudi nationals. The perpetrator stated threats of physical violence which he directed against these men and drew this into a general tirade about ‘what happened last night,’ (meaning the attacks in Paris). The abusive man identified himself as Columbian.
The specifics of the abuse focused on abuses of human rights in Saudi, (specifically, ‘raping pregnant women’), with reflections on Saudi masculinity and the masculinity of Muslims in comparison with the masculinity of South American men. The threats and abuse carried on for an hour and other passengers intervened and protected the Kuwaitis as the perpetrator walked around them. Some of these passengers even tried to draw the perpetrator away from the two Kuwaitis, showing the spirit and courage of members of the public.
Eventually, the perpetrator was arrested as the train reached its final destination. Members of the public also gave statements to the police to ensure that the evidence was relayed to law enforcement.
What this incident shows, is how public action can protect the victims and reduce the chances of a serious assault taking place. The British public have once again, made us proud.