Its been hard to ignore the tragic news from Woolwich this week.  Its been on the front page of all the newspapers you sell woolwichand on the lips of everybody around.  Retailer and former NFRN president Suleman Khonat shares his feelings about some of the issues raised in the following open letter.

A man was mowed down by a car and then attacked with knives by two men in what seemed like a totally unprovoked attack. Later reports suggest the attackers uttered statements claiming their reasons for the attack were political, especially their grievance for Muslims suffering around the world.

As a Muslim Councillor for Blackburn with Darwen Council representing many Muslims in the Shear Brow ward of Blackburn, let me start by expressing my sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased. There is no justification whatsoever of this kind of cold blooded murder anywhere in the world.

I too, like many in this country am not happy with the military expeditions that our country has ventured into over the past decade. In fact, I’m quite certain, many military personnel and families are also not happy at them being sent out to Iraq and Afghanistan etc.

However, this is the decision of a democratic government and those who are not happy have a democratic right to protest through democratic means. No one has the right to take the law into their own hands, no matter what the grievance. And then to kill someone in broad daylight, apparently mutilate his body, something which the Prophet (saw) did not allow even in the battlefield, how can one justify this gruesome act?

It is very easy for some to muddle this act with the suffering of Muslims around the world and we really need to separate the two. Two wrongs do not make a right.

We have to condemn this killing unreservedly. As leaders in the UK, stand up responsibly and be clear in your condemnation and do not let people peddle you towards justifying this act, because of the wrong that is happening elsewhere.

It should also be pointed out to those who will paint the whole Muslim community with the same brush. While two men apparently from the Muslim faith were committing this heinous crime, hundreds and thousands of Muslim Doctors, nurses and health care workers were helping people in this country, saving peoples lives, regardless of faith, colour or creed. Many Muslim doctors were in the theatre saving people’s lives at that exact time.

While these two men claiming to be Muslims were carrying out their calculated brazen murder on the streets of London, hundreds and thousands of Muslim men and women were educating our children in Schools up and down the country. Teaching them to be good citizens, living side by side, treating each other with respect.

Some Muslims were cleaning our Streets, cleaning our hospitals to save people from infection, some were feeding the elderly, some were reporting on the incident as journalists.

Don’t tarnish a whole faith because of the actions of two murderers. I urge all Muslims to condemn this act unreservedly.

Yours Sincerely

sulemanSuleman Khonat Cllr, JP and
President of National Federation of Retail Newsagents (Blackburn Branch)