The horrific terrorist attack against young concert-goers in Manchester, England. Newsweek magazine chose to highlight Conor Gaffey’s report from the city in its daily email. But in all-too-common pattern among the liberal press after an Islamic terrorist attack, Gaffey quickly changed the subject, skipping ahead of concern for the victims of Islamic terrorism straight to left-wing handwringing about hypothetical Islamophobia, even bringing Brexit into the discussion. “Muslims in Manchester Fear Reprisals as ISIS Claims Responsibility for Concert Attack.”
In a run-down back street in the Northern Quarter of Manchester, England, less than a mile from the arena where a bomb killed 22 people on Monday, is the Muslim Youth Foundation (MYF), a local mosque and community center that runs programs for young people.
Pinned to a notice board in its lobby is a simple three-paragraph message, welcoming all to pray and attend activities at the center. Below, it includes an addendum: “We do not tolerate any kind of extremism or extremist ideologies inside this center.” And then, in red type: “We urge everybody to stay within the Islamic and the U.K. laws.”
That message has become all the more apt since Monday night, when a suicide bomber detonated an improvised explosive device at the end of an Ariana Grande concert, causing mayhem among the 20,000-strong fans flooding out of the arena.
On Tuesday, the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) said a “soldier of the Khilafah [caliphate]” was responsible for the attack. The attacker, who died detonating the device, has been unofficially named as 23-year-old Salman Abedi, though police have not responded to Newsweek’s request for confirmation.
Gaffey failed to raise any inconvenient questions as to whether the local community may have played a part in Abedi's radicalization, skipping straight to pre-victimhood and speaking of an "inevitable backlash."
Many of the city’s nearly quarter-million Muslims dread the seemingly inevitable backlash against their community. Mohamed Abdul Malek, an imam and trustee of the MYF, says the aftermath of such attacks is a time marked by fear. “I think with past experience, that fear is there in our [community], especially among women,” says Malek, 61, shuffling in his leather chair in a back room in the MYF’s office.
But that radicalization comes alongside something else: a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes, in part stoked by attacks claimed by ISIS in Brussels and Paris, as well as the aftermath of the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union. In December 2016, the Muslim Council of Britain urged British politicians to urgently address Islamophobia in the face of growing attacks against Muslims in the U.K. Figures released in October 2016 showed that hate crimes against Muslims in London had increased 65 percent on the previous year.
Gaffey portrayed the Muslim community in Manchester as the one under attack:
At the MYF, young men shuffle past gathering journalists and file downstairs to attend the midday prayers. Malek says he will be instructing his congregation to speak out against the attack, but also to be vigilant for their own safety. “The Muslim community should clearly show its support for the victims of this act, should do whatever it can to lessen the impact of this act. But at the same time, [they] should take precautions against people who might target them for being Muslims,” he says.
“The people who were killed are our colleagues, our friends our neighbors. You cannot separate us or segregate us from the impact of such on act on the people of Manchester generally.”