I’m a Londoner who also happens to be a Muslim – don’t let this attack turn us against one another

I left home this morning for the Tube, my apprehension at being singled out for being a Muslim woman was tempered by the messages I received from my non-Muslim friends checking that I was ok

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The Independent Online

The news of yesterday’s attack struck me hard, being a Londoner, a Muslim and as someone who this time last year was caught in the Brussels terror attack.

“Today is a year since Brussels. Love and solidarity sisters” was the simple message I sent yesterday morning to the women I was trapped inside the EU Parliament headquarters with on 22 March 2016. Later that day, we found that history was repeating itself a year on in another parliament, in another city, our city.

Memories of being locked in a room and being told to stay away from windows came flooding back, as similar instructions were being repeated in the Palace of Westminster.

Sadiq Khan on the Westminster attack: "Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism"

I frantically text friends and colleagues to check they were safe. I also began to receive messages from Muslim friends expressing disbelief and disgust at the violence, worried about our loved ones in the vicinity of the attack.

It wasn’t long before questions about the attacker’s identity began to surface. Every Muslim I know prayed it wasn’t someone who claimed to share our faith. Now that we know the assailant had been investigated by MI5 and Isis have claimed the attack as their own, the fear of a backlash has become very real. 

But in the true London spirit of tolerance and acceptance, a fundraising page for the victims was set up by the Muslim London Launch Good Campaign and within two hours of being created £5000 has been donated. Faith leaders across London were featured in a video produced by London Faith Forum expressing solidarity. Various Muslim organisations were quick to release statements and a vigil has been organised tonight by our Muslim mayor to express love, solidarity and defiance.

We are doing this because we care for our city, we are hurt by the violence, death and hatred that visited it yesterday and because we are Londoners who happen to be Muslim.

I left home this morning for the Tube, my apprehension at being targeted or singled out for being a visibly Muslim woman was tempered by reading the messages I received from my non-Muslim friends checking that I was ok. Hearing what the inspirational Brandon Cox said about the attacker being no more representative of British Muslims as his wife’s murderer being representative of people from Yorkshire made me feel hopeful. And seeing the photo of the message board at a London Underground station saying, “The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of them all” summed up for me, why we have to hold on tight to our sense of solidarity.  

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