Terrorism must never divide us
It is a sad reflection of the turbulent times in which we live that Muslim leaders have had to swiftly put out public statements condemning the utterly horrific and barbaric murder of a soldier in London on Wednesday afternoon. They should not need to do so any more than any other group.
The people who carried out this atrocious attack are hopelessly deluded and misguided individuals and do not remotely reflect the values of the Muslim community.
However, Muslims have been so demonised over the past few years that an incident such as this fuels unwarranted suspicion and reprisals, as we have seen in London with attacks on mosques.
It is in this febrile atmosphere that Muslim leaders have had to react quickly to make it clear that the actions of the killers are condemned by the Islamic community and do not represent its values and beliefs.
Apparently, the killers chanted the name of Allah during their vile attack. People who have committed atrocities throughout history have proclaimed religious faith, as though their appalling actions have some sort of divine sanction. In reality, they are simply using the name of a faith to try to justify their own crimes. Their behaviour bears no relation to the teachings of the religions they proclaim.
Defeating terrorism is not just the work of the police and security services but wider society, too. It is about being united and showing the terrorists that people in this country stand shoulder-to-shoulder with one another in the name of peace whatever their faith and background. Those who demonise Muslims or attack mosques are just continuing the division and discord that the terrorists seek.
The reality is that terrorists have nothing to do with any of us. They are people who exist on the margins of society wrapped up in their own hate-filled views. They are not part of any religion or group or community. They are isolated individuals in a hell of their own making.
Finally, let's not lose sight of what matters most here; the dreadful death of a young man in the most barbaric way imaginable. Our hearts go out to his loved ones. We cannot imagine the pain they are going through. Our sympathies seem inadequate in the face of this horror but they are all we have to give.