A British soldier was attacked and killed on the street in the Woolwich section of London. His assailants hit him with a car and then attacked him with a knife and a machete. Afterwards, they dragged the victim into the street and began asking bystanders to take pictures. One person actually taped a statement from one of the murderers, who said:

“We swear by Almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you. The only reasons we have done this is because Muslims are dying every day. This British soldier is an eye for an eye a tooth for tooth. We apologise that women had to see this today but in our lands our women have to see the same. You people will never be safe. Remove your government. They don’t care about you.”

When the armed police showed up, the men moved toward them in a menacing manner and were shot and wounded. They are in the hospital.

Now, Ian Dunt says that Muslim leaders and organizations should not be issuing condemnations or apologies because they bear no responsibility for the attacks. I understand his point, but the truth is that it is a very good idea to make it as clear as possible that they condemn murdering British soldiers in the streets of London. The purpose is not so much to condemn (although that is appreciated) as to calm tensions and protect their people from reprisals.

Moreover, somebody is responsible for what these two men did. Maybe it’s someone on the internet. Maybe it’s someone at one of the local mosques. No doubt, British foreign policy invites blowback, but these men spoke with London accents. They were Brits who turned against their own country, much like (at least one of) the Boston Bombers. That kind of betrayal gets to the heart of the issue of whether Muslims can be trusted to live in British society, and it can’t be addressed if Muslim leaders refuse to disassociate themselves from the crimes.

British society cannot be expected to tolerate members of a religious minority that won’t condemn crimes against their own military and their own citizens. Maybe in some abstract sense condemnations would not be required, but in the real world they are both required and quite prudent.

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