The T-Word | Sarah Stook

On the 15th October, MP Sir David Amess was stabbed to death whilst attending an MP surgery in his constituency of Southend West, Essex.

On the 14th November, a taxi headed to Liverpool Women’s Hospital. When it arrived outside its destination, it exploded. The terrorist was killed instantly whilst the cabbie, David Perry, just managed to get out of there.

In the space of a month, Britain experienced two terrorist attacks. You’d expect that it would have been a bigger story. It would keep a firm grip on the newspaper headlines, be constantly mentioned on the news and be the topic of discussion in Parliament. Such horrendous actions should be a shock. They should be major news.

The key word there: should.

It seems the media and politicians are terrified of that big word beginning with T.

What Happened?

On the 14th November, the news was stuffed with stories of Remembrance. No surprise really, considering that it was Remembrance Sunday. Cameras focused on the Cenotaph, of brave heroes and the Queen being absent.

The bomb outside the Liverpool hospital occurred at 10:59 AM, just a minute before the nation fell silent. You’d expect that the news would pick up on it pretty quickly. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Social media was the first to notify the country that something was wrong. Amateur footage spread over Twitter.

When the news broke, it was slow. It popped up on the news ticker and anchors gave infrequent updates. Sure, there wasn’t much to go on and speculation isn’t great, but an explosion outside a hospital is an explosion outside a hospital. You’d think that it would be an important news item.

There was also the fact that it wasn’t in London to consider, but that’s not the point.

On the evening of the attack, the news did start to actually pull its fingers out. After that? Poof. Other news stories of lesser importance, such as whatever COP26 did, seemed to pull ahead once again.

The murder of Sir David Amess seemed to fizzle out of the news after a week. We heard the tributes and the MPs worrying-correctly-about their safety. The by-election for his seat will no doubt bring back some memories, but not the real discussion.

Why The Fear?

The establishment seems to be scared of talking about the real issue-Terrorism.

Upon Amess’ death, Parliament decided something needed to be done. Considering two MPs have been murdered in the last five years, that is definitely true. MPs- and the public- need to both feel and be safe. Surely we could trust Parliament to do this right?

That was clearly asking too much.

MPs decided that the best thing to do was tackle online bullying against politicians.

The perpetrator did not send abusive tweets. The perpetrator did this because of a violent ideology that encourages murdering innocents. He was not a keyboard warrior. He is a terrorist.

That is not to say we shouldn’t take the abuse of MPs lightly. We’ve seen how MPs have been harassed and stalked and abused. It’s just not the relevant issue at the time being. Taking away anonymity on the internet won’t stop these attacks. It’s like putting a plaster on a bullet wound.

The wannabe terrorist in Liverpool seems to be under-discussed. His apparent conversion to Christianity seems to have been a ploy to help with his asylum application. He even reportedly changed his name to sound ‘less Muslim.’ This man had already failed in an asylum application- seven years ago. He’d claimed to be Syrian, when he was in fact a Jordanian. The bomber had already been sectioned after waving a knife at people from an overpass. He’d been rejected for asylum on multiple occasions.

Why was he not deported after the first rejection?

His conversion was likely a cynical ploy to gain asylum, as he could claim he would be prosecuted due his faith if sent home. The Church of England claims to be unaware of this loophole, despite the fact that the perpetrator was at a conversation class specifically for refugees and asylum seekers.

It seems politicians are afraid to talk about terrorism. They’re terrified of being deemed racist or wrong or hateful. They fear their reputation more than what is right. We have known for years that the immigration system needs reform yet it remains in tatters.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was at a Liaison Committee on the Wednesday after the Liverpool attack. While the topics discussed were admittedly pre-planned, it is surprising that terrorism did not pop up at all.

What Should be Done?

The asylum system does not need the backlog that it does. It needs to be reformed. Those who are in genuine danger need to have a safe, legal home instead of worrying in limbo. Look at Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman persecuted in her homeland. The U.K. did not reach out to offer her asylum out of fear of the reaction by fundamentalists. Bibi was sentenced to hang for blasphemy. She and her family had to be hidden so that they weren’t killed. That is a real asylum case.

Those who are rejected because of safety fears should not be on our shores seven years later.

There has also been an increase in migrants making the dangerous crossing across the English Channel. With a lack of verification, we cannot know who these people are. As numbers tick up, so do those arriving on our shores. They can lie. Without documents, they can be everyone. It is yet another risk.

We can’t just blame the asylum and immigration system. Terrorists can be home-grown. The killer of Amess had been reported to the anti-radicalisation group Prevent. That clearly did a fat lot of good.

Look at all the cases where the terrorist was known to MI5 or police. The mass shooter in Plymouth was known to police, having had his firearms license revoked before being returned to him. Some slip under the radar. Others are under surveillance yet manage to commit the atrocities that were supposed to be prevented.

What about those placed in de-radicalisation programmes, like the man that murdered innocent people on London Bridge in 2019? These people are playing the system in order to get early release. They spread their poison within prison walls. Can these people ever be truly reformed?

We’ve also got to accept that there are people in this country who hold atrocious views. They send death threats to those accused of blasphemy. They want LGBT folk driven underground. They hate women and want to control them. These folk exist. They’re born here. They come on boats. There are communities that deem certain sections of society as undesirable. Their homelands do not have the freedoms and values we have.

The Conservative Party is supposed to be that of law and order. They’ve already proven that they’re not. Labour? Also out of the question.

We should be concerned that terrorist attacks, like stabbing in London’s and women being murdered, have become so commonplace that the media simply does not care. The only thing stopping a hospital full of pregnant women and other innocents was the sharp kind of a heroic taxi driver. Not even our hospitals are safe anymore.

We shouldn’t live in a society where MPs can’t speak to constituents in a place of worship without losing our lives. We shouldn’t live in a society where hospitals will soon have to amp up their security. We shouldn’t live in a society where our freedoms are taken away from us because no action is taken.

David Perry is one in a million. There won’t be someone there every time. The T word shouldn’t be taboo for politicians.

Say it with me: Terrorism.

Photo Credit.

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