In the wake of yet another stabbing attack that appears to have some of the hallmarks of terrorism, this time in Ireland, one of that country’s biggest newspapers wants to make sure we know the really important takeaway from the incident: That nobody should consider the connection to Islamist terrorism, lest they be considered a bigot.
According to NBC News, an 18-year-old Egyptian man stands accused of killing one and injuring two others during a stabbing spree in the Irish town of Dundalk on Wednesday.
Irish national broadcaster RTE identified the alleged killer as Mohammed Morei. Police in the small County Louth town say that the stabbing spree began just before 9 a.m., when he stabbed Japanese national Yosuke Sasaki to death on the street.
Shortly thereafter, an Irish man was stabbed in a different part of down, also allegedly by Morei. A final incident was reported to authorities shortly after 9:40 a.m., which involved a local man being attacked by a man wielding fence pole.
Officials have said there has been no established link to terror as of yet. However, it is known that Morei applied for asylum in Ireland.
Paul Williams with the Irish Independent reports that while “we, the public, are none the wiser as to this man’s status in the country, or how he had come to be here in the first place,” there are several indications that the attack could be related to the man’s asylum status.
It’s known that Morei had crossed from Northern Ireland into Ireland proper at some point and that he had “contact” with law enforcement “working in immigration on New Year’s Day.”
However, the possible link to terrorism was impossible to ignore, especially since the modus operandi — attacks of convenience against random individuals in Western nations — is something that Islamist terrorist groups in general and the Islamic State group in particular have been associated with.
If you have enough common sense to have made that grim connection, the Irish Times, one of Ireland’s largest newspapers, has an implicit message for you: Stop it. Or else you’re a bigot.
In a Friday piece called “Muslims call on Irish people to resist blaming Islam for attacks,” the Irish Times quoted several prominent Muslims who were dismayed that some people might jump to the conclusion that an extremist form of their religion could be responsible for an attack that bore some of the hallmarks of attacks inspired by an extremist form of their religion.
“Fazel Ryklief watched in dismay as news of the Dundalk attack that left one man dead and two injured spread on Wednesday morning,” the piece began. “Meanwhile, a tide of anti-immigrant abuse directed at Muslims had begun to swell on social media.”
“In the end, irrespective of whether he was Syrian or Egyptian, it all came down to him being a Muslim. Islam always gets the brunt of it,” Ryklief, an employee at the Islamic Foundation of Ireland, told the paper.
“I want to stop feeling guilty about being a Muslim every time someone with a Muslim name does something like this,” he added. “As soon as the police mention the words ‘terrorist attack’ people go mad. They don’t wait to establish the reasons.”
Three things here. First, unless he supports or provides cover for groups or individuals that encourage and/or engage in attacks on innocent civilians, there isn’t any particular reason for Mr. Ryklief or any other Muslim to feel guilty. While there may be random voices on social media that are saying this, these are random voices on social media. Facebook idiots aren’t exactly known to be a great barometer of wider public sentiment.
Which brings me to my second point: Using unsourced reports of trolls on social media is not proof that “Islam always gets the brunt of it,” nor would it change the very salient issue of whether the attack was an act of Islamist terror. It’s worth noting that the writer for the Irish Times never provides concrete proof for “a tide of anti-immigrant abuse directed at Muslims” on social media, nor does the piece define what “a tide” or “anti-immigrant abuse” would consist of.
Finally, the question of people going “mad” once an attack is deemed to be terrorist in nature by the police. When these attacks are suborned by al Qaeda and the Islamic State group, the idea of waiting “to establish the reasons” seems rather superfluous. Yes, there may have been psychological factors at play in the attacker — but that doesn’t mitigate the role that extremist Islam played.
Ryklief wasn’t the only Irish Muslim identified in the story, but the sentiments were similar. “There is no doubt that these days people are quick to jump to conclusions,” Dr. Saud Bajwa, a consultant at Galway University Hospital and spokesman for the Galway Islamic Cultural Centre, told the Irish Times. “On our side, we’re always praying sincerely that the latest attack is not a Muslim thing. I still think there is a wider good out there in Ireland but there are always people who look at me with doubt because I am a Muslim.”
While one would hope Dr. Bajwa’s first prayer would be for a cessation of all attacks by all types of extremists, the points still remain the same — Dr. Bajwa’s subjective experience doesn’t change the objective fact that Islamic extremism causes and suborns terror. None of this does. While I feel terribly sorry for any abuse these individuals may have suffered from the “tide” of internet losers and bigots on social media, the blame here does not lie with the Irish people.
It lies with the violent terrorist organizations who have used an extreme form of Islam — and the most vicious forms of violence — to strike fear into the hearts of innocent people.
What are your thoughts on the Dundalk attack?