I read a report yesterday, which I'm sadly unable to find again, which said that a rather large percentage of British people didn't think the attack at Finsbury Park was an act of terrorism. There's been some sort of survey. God knows who these people are that provide the statistic-hungry media with figures they can spin for their own advantage. I've never been asked my views on anything like this. Anyway, the figures are being held up by left wing press as an indication that the British public are inherently Islamophobic. And, of course, this could well be true. The feeling is that the media almost immediately reported Manchester and London Bridge as terrorist attacks but that it took them way too long to report Finsbury Park in the same way. I'm not sure I entirely agree. I've not heard it described as anything other than terrorism. Almost pointedly so.
Islamophobia is undeniably a huge issue in the U.K. at the moment. But I believe we've mistakenly started to use the word "terrorism" as a catch-all to define anything which causes terror, rather than as the word was intended to be used.
It's a little unclear, but there does seem to be a basic universal definition of the word terrorism:
"Terrorism is the use of violence or threat of violence especially against civilians in the pursuit of political aims, religious, or ideological change."
By this definition, I would struggle to call Finsbury Park a terrorist attack. As previously stated in this blog, I believe we need to define it as a hate crime. This makes it no less terrifying. No less unacceptable. And, in fact, by describing it as a hate crime against Muslim people, I believe we're sending out a much clearer message that there's a specific problem with Islamophobia in this country.
I previously mentioned Orlando as an example of a crime against my own community which, in my view, people were too fast to describe as terrorism. By defining it this way, it somehow becomes a universal attack on us - an attack on Western values - and homophobia gets swept under the carpet. Yes the gunman may well have pledged allegiance to Isis. Isis merely gave him an excuse. The fact was that he was closeted gay, in deep turmoil, and took everything out on a community which he'd loosely been a member of. There was nothing remotely ideological about his actions.
Journalist Owen Jones famously walked away from a Sky News interview when the anchorwoman started to claim that this particular attacker could have chosen any bar, and just "happened" to pick a gay one. It was extremely insulting because it effectively denied that there was a specific issue with homo and trans phobia in the US.
So, look, I have every sympathy for those who want to call Finsbury Park a terrorist attack because they think it's a way of making this a universal issue. But actually, Finsbury Park was simply an attack on Muslim people by a white man with a grudge. And we have to remember that. There was nothing remotely ideological about his actions.