by Nesrine Malik
"We now live in a world where prejudice and violence against Muslims is firmly established. In a relatively short space of time, we have gone from deliberating whether Islamophobia actually exists to scrambling to deal with its rapidly unfolding consequences. On Sunday night, on the 24th day of Ramadan, an Islamic centre in Finsbury Park was deliberately attacked as worshippers left a nearby mosque.
Hate crimes of any nature do not occur in a vacuum, and there is a particularly urgent need to examine the context in which this attack took place. For innocent people to become targets, two things must happen: first, incitement to hatred, and then normalisation. Incitement happens when anger is stirred up and people are depicted as less than human. Normalisation occurs when the incitement is repeated, when it begins to feel like part of the scenery. After that, acting on that rage can begin to feel like less of a crime. This applies, by the way, whether the attackers are “lone wolves” or part of an organised network. It applies to Muslims fed dehumanising distortions about those who don’t share their religion. And it also applies to non-Muslims fed smears against their Muslim neighbours."