When the dust settles after a terrorist incident, the inevitable accusations begin. Why aren’t ‘moderate Muslims’ doing more to weed out the bad apples? Where are the condemnations from Muslim leaders, the shared mourning, the promises to do everything to prevent this happening again?
They’re there. We’re just not listening.
Salman Abedi, who blew himself up at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester last month, taking 23 innocent lives with him, was reported to authorities five years ago. A community worker red-flagged the terrorist when he admitted that he thought being a suicide bomber was acceptable.
An unnamed whistleblower told BBC Asia that he had suspicions about London Bridge attacker Khuram Butt two years ago. “I phoned the anti-terrorist hotline, I spoke to the gentleman I told him why and how. I told him about why… I think he’s been radicalised,” he told the program. “They didn’t get back to me. Nor was he arrested or you know, just picked up for any kind of questioning.”
Western countries like Australia, the UK and the USA all have terrorist hotlines that anyone can ring at any time with tip-offs. And they are. In the US, there’s been an 8 per cent increase of reports about suspected jihadis this year.
Sometimes it works. Terror attacks are regularly foiled – something we don’t give authorities enough credit for. In 2016, Australia avoided 15 terror attacks, including beheadings, because suspects were arrested before they could carry out their plans. The police are regularly helped in their work by Muslim community members who value human life.
And yet these attacks anger and sadden us so much that it seems like we’re ready to lash out at anyone and anything – finding blame where it isn’t. It’s not helpful. It doesn’t solve anything. And it’s often not true.
In the wake of the London terror attacks, Muslim families have been gathering at memorials near London Bridge to hand out 1000 roses with messages of sorrow and sympathy. "We have the deepest profound feelings of sadness," Beyza Coskun told ABC News. It's time we stopped blaming and started working together.
The idea of ‘unity’ seems trite and amorphous in the face of such sharp, tangible, brutal attacks. We have little patience for long-term strategies against sudden actions that scream for quick solutions.
But we simply gain nothing by nebulous anger or scattergun blame. We’d do better gratefully - and effectively - work with the help we’re offered before something like London or Melbourne can ever happen again.