News is coming in that an arrest has been made regarding the Brussels murder of Jews who were visiting a Jewish Museum in Brussels. News reports have stated that a French citizen, Mehdi Nemmouche, 29, was arrested in Marseille on Friday and was found carrying a Kalashnikov rifle and a gun, as well as a miniature camera. Nemmouche, it seems, was clearly on the radar of intelligence agencies who have tracked him down.
The Paris Public Prosecutor stated that Nemmouche had spent a year training in Syria and had been carrying an insignia from ISIL, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, when he was arrested. Depressingly, this case seems to play out another situation that I commented on and the article can be found here. Mohamed Merah was involved in the cold-blooded killing of Jews in Toulouse and had travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan and the return of individuals from war zones and areas of conflict remains a problem for intelligence agencies and the police.
For us, as a national project that supports victims of anti-Muslim hate and which monitors and records anti-Muslim bigotry or Islamophobia, the attack on Jews in Europe is chilling. It is chilling since we have been tackling those who see Muslims as a threat, ‘fifth columnists’ and as a group of communities that should be targeted so that they leave the UK. So to see individuals who are of a Muslim background allegedly involved in such terrible crimes makes us more resolved to ensure that we tackle and call out those from within small sections of Muslim communities who believe and promote antisemitism or conspiracy theories that blame social ills on ‘Jews.’ In fact, we see the same rhetoric against Jewish communities, which is turned against Muslims, by those who see the latter as a ‘virus,’ ‘bacteria’, ‘fifth columnists’ etc. We will therefore continue to robustly tackle antisemitism within small sections of Muslim communities where we find it.
There is another issue that needs to be mentioned. International conflicts are arenas in which young men can be influenced, trained and radicalised. We see this through the cases outlined above and within the UK, many parents have made approaches to their local police forces asking for help in tracking their sons who have suddenly gone missing overnight. Working with the authorities to ensure the safety of your sons is key since Syria holds nothing but the possibility of death and a future of potential criminality. What is also a fact is that returnees from Syria will be held, questioned and put under observation and this is a fact as the State tries to reduce societal risks from returnees.
We are also mindful of the fact that Syria plays heavily on the heart of many British Muslims. Our advice would be to support registered charities that work on supporting the people of Syria. Fundraising activities, volunteering for charities working in Syria and raising community awareness to support the charities does make a difference to the lives of Syrians. Keep up the social activism to help the people of Syria through such actions.
Finally, we want to send out a message to those who attack other communities and who are of a Muslim background, that they are not a part of us. They are not welcome, their actions are abhorrent and the narratives that given them emotional succour to carry out such attacks should be tackled. We must have a zero tolerance approach to such people wherever they are.