Aziz Al-Sa'afin: How language breeds Islamophobia

OPINION: Language matters and the way media have reported on the London Finsbury Park mosque terrorist attack highlights how important it really is.

Contrary to what you may have read in some media, it was just that - a terrorist attack, not simply "an attack".

The way this terrorist attack (do I need to say it again?) has been reported demonstrates the underlying double-standard we have when it comes to these kinds of events.

I did a double take when I came across this tweet by the Daily Mail UK. I had to read it a few times just to make sure I was seeing it correctly.

The publication wrote: "Clean-shaven white man arrested by police as at least 10 people are injured." 

And Metro UK, which has since edited its headline, originally described it as a "revenge" attack.

Surely the fact that both UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the Met Police both labelled it a terrorist incident would change the way we spoke about it?

Some publications went back and changed their wording to "suspected terrorist".

But it seemed others didn't quite get the memo.

The hesitation to acknowledge terrorism was strong; even with people I was talking to face-to-face.

It was almost like a tick - they couldn't quite let it roll off the tongue like they usually do, like they have in the last few weeks of covering terror attacks in London.

The Daily Mail tweet started a wildfire online.

Some joked that finding out the man in question was clean-shaven allayed their fears.

Others wrote the man couldn't have possibly been a terrorist if he was clean-shaven.

While it's easy to take the lighter side, I couldn't help but look at the cold, hard truth.

We have a problem calling it a 'terrorist attack' if the perpetrator isn't of Middle Eastern descent, or of Islamic faith.

That is the real elephant in the room.

But let me make something quite clear. Terrorism has no religion or ideology.

We need to accept that now, or face the truth that we are feeding Islamophobia.

You only need to look at how US President Donald Trump conducted himself this morning to see it.

Trump quite obviously failed to personally acknowledge the terrorist attack.

Now, some would say that isn't weird at all. Well, it's not - until you look at the morning of how he responded to the London Bridge terrorist attack.

On June 4, when a group of Islamic terrorists drove into a group of pedestrians killing eight people, Trump called on the world to be smart and vigilant.

He issued a series of tweets pledging his support and calling on the world to stop being "politically correct".

The US President pushed his travel ban, attacked London Mayor Saqdiq Khan, and quashed the gun debate.

This morning, however, he put up just one tweet - and it had nothing to do with London.

In Trump's absence, other defiant Londoners took to social media to rally around Finsbury's Muslim victims.

Many started the hashtag #StandTogether, while others echoed the message "lunatics will not divide us".

Author JK Rowling also penned her way into the conversation, condemning 'victim blaming'.

That was in relation to former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson accusing the Finsbury Park Mosque of "creating terrorists".

Rowling was quick to point out Finsbury had actually won an award in the past for combating extremism.

Her battle is one we can all join.

I'm going to say it again: terrorism has no religion or ideology. It has no face and belongs to no one group in particular.

This was a terrorist attack and it was carried out by an extremist.

A transport worker penned a fitting sign to London commuters this morning, which we would all do well to remember.

"Tough times don't last. Tough people do. Stick together. All of us."

Aziz Al-Sa'afin is The AM Show's social media correspondent.

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