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Confronting terror together

Maaß Birgit Kommentarbild App
Birgit Maass
June 4, 2017

Saturday's terror attack in London shows the importance of looking out for each other. Societal cohesion must not weaken, DW's Birgit Maass writes.

Großbritannien London – nach dem Terroranschlag
Image: Reuters/P. Nicholls

I am worried. There have been three attacks in three months in Britain. How can this not change a country? What is happening in my beloved, lively United Kingdom, where people from all over the world live together peacefully in a small space? Will my neighbor, a young woman who uses crutches to walk, have to face angry looks again, or even be bullied on the streets, as other Muslims in London have, after the latest attack? Will there be more? Must we be concerned when our children ride the bus?

More than 30 people have been killed in attacks since March: first in London, then in Manchester and now in London again. Compared with the rest of the world, the terror threat is very low in Britain and the European Union. Nevertheless, the police have placed about 3,000 people under surveillance. Prime Minister Theresa May says there is "far too much tolerance of extremism" in the United Kingdom and that "enough is enough." The attack has prompted a renewal of calls to arrest suspects and jail them without trial. This is one of the demands being made by the right-wing UK Independence Party in its campaign for June's early elections

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DW's Birgit Maass

Measures must be taken to ensure that there is no tolerance for extremism. In my opinion, this should begin in schools, many of which are faith schools in the United Kingdom. Children should always be taught British values, and never distorted versions of Islam. It would be even more sensible - and more conducive to peaceful coexistence in a society - if faith did not separate students. Even though most religious schools do have peaceful intentions, parallel societies can emerge, which provide fertile ground for intolerance and radicalization.

May: We need to live our lives as one

'All one'

There must be a focus on fighting terror on the internet, and funding cuts for essential police work must be stopped. But people should not forget that societal cohesion is decisive. I experienced this in Manchester after the attack.

A police officer horseback had to manage crowds after the attack. She still took time to smile at a wheelchair user and warn him: "You take care, sweetheart." A visibly shocked Muslim taxi driver was not willing to accept any money from us. He insisted that on a day like this, we must stick together. "We are all one," he said. Like many other taxi drivers, he immediately drove to the scene of the attack. He took injured people to the hospital, free of charge. Friendly Sikhs offering water, chips and biscuits appeared everywhere in the city center. Londoners even offered a people a place to sleep late at night if they were unable to make it back north amid the confusion.

London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, is a Muslim. His message is that we should not allow terrorists to win. Never lose faith in humanity and compassion.

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Birgit Maass UK Correspondent@birgit_maass