We’ve all heard the term “hate breeds hate” and when Darren Osbourne was convicted for 43 years for driving a van into a crowd of worshippers near a London mosque this phrase was confirmed. I followed his trial closely as I wanted to understand this man’s reasoning.
Nothing he stated, was a surprise to me, in fact I wish I wrote it all down on a brown envelope and posted to the Home Secretary for her to open up after the trial – I was that confident with what was going to come out of Mr Osbourne’s mouth. The fact is today, in modern Britain, Islam/Muslims have been vilified in the court of public opinion – they don’t integrate, they’re paedophiles, they rape white girls, build bombs in Mosques and they oppress women and young girls to wear the hijab.
As a Doncastarian, that grew up in Sheffield, I was sick to the bottom of my stomach.
All of this is now normalised for some sections of British society, and for Muslims living in the UK today this abuse is normal. For the record Islamophobia hate crime is at a five-year high and is going through the roof.
To evidence my point, last week the Doncaster Free Press posted on Facebook that three mosques in South Yorkshire were having open days, and this was an opportunity for people to visit, ask questions and have a biscuit.
Instead the comments received on that post were offensive and despicable – I commented on that post, that if this is a reflection of society, and given we had just commemorated Holocaust Memorial Day – the theme for this year “Power of Words” – then we have learnt nothing.
Frankly, as a Doncastrian, who grew up in Sheffield, I was sick to the bottom of my stomach – I wondered what message were these people sending out to their children and young people – is this the type of society that people want their children to grow up in, with hate and suspicion? Do these people not realise how appalling and wrong it is to stigmatise, condemn and to an extent criminalise a whole section of a community?
Following Darren Osbourne’s conviction, the victim’s family, clearly distressed, came out to face the cameras and gave a brief statement. This was posted on Facebook by ITV, as a result numbers of people posted some of the most inhumane and repulsive statements I have ever read.
I once read somewhere, “that hate divides, though grief unites”, how wrong could I be – but I still believe the words of Martin Luther King – that it is only light that can drive out darkness.
We have to assess openly how the “them and us” narrative has been allowed to take shape, why there’s been a shift from racism to Islamophobia and why it’s taken a grip of people’s conscience.
We must understand openly, what the state should have done, and what it did.