LONDON: Britain experienced a communal backlash against Muslims within 24 hours of a young, serving soldier being butchered with “stone age savagery” in Woolwich by two radical British Nigerians who had changed from
being “devout Christians to Muslims” recently.
Mobs calling themselves English Defence League clashed with riot police after Wednesday’s “terror attack” . Mosques in Woolwich, Braintree in Essex and Gillingham in Kent were attacked with bricks and bottles.
Fearing such backlash could intensify and affect all Asian communities including Indians, 1,200 extra police officers were posted on the streets of London. PM David Cameron called for calm saying the incident in Woolwich “has sickened us all” .
“The people who did this were trying to divide us. They should know: something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger,” Cameron said, adding that the attack wasn’t just against Britain but against Islam as well.
“This was not just an attack on Britain and on our British way of life. It was also a betrayal of Islam – and of Muslim communities who give so much to our country. There’s nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act. We will defeat violent extremism by standing together,” Cameron said.
He then visited Woolwich and met leaders of different communities. The two suspects were known to Britain’s intelligence agency MI5. One of the two was named as 28-year-old Michael Adeboloja.
Adebolajo is said to have joined the banned Islamist organization Al Muhajiroun, which promotes Sharia law. He was stopped by intelligence agencies earlier on his way to join the militant Islamist group Al Shabaab in Somalia last year. What has shocked most people is the brashness with which Adeboloja killed the soldier. Talking to passerbys with blood dripping from his hands, Adeboloja said, “It was an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.” He hacked his victim shouting ‘Allah-u Akbar’ , meaning ‘God is great’ .
In a chilling rant captured on camera, the knife-wielding Adeboloja then said, “The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers. Remove your governments, they don’t care about you. You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start bursting our guns? You think politicians are going to die? Tell them to bring our troops back so you can all live in peace.”
Police investigating the attack have been searching addresses in Greenwich and Lincolnshire, believed to be connected to Adeboloja. Four people have been picked up for questioned. Metropolitan Police’s Counter Terrorism Command and MI5 are trying to determine whether this could be part of a more orchestrated campaign.