Opportunist far right parties hurried, once again, to link the recent terrorist attack on Westminster, which killed four people, with immigration. The message is not new: we heard it after the attacks in Paris, Nice, Brussels and Berlin. „We must control our borders,“ said Marine Le Pen, while former UKIP leader Nigel Farage claimed that Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim policy was correct.
Manipulation is commonplace amongst populist politicians, who try to capitalise on atrocities and people’s fear in order to gain votes. Mixing immigration and religion with terrorism, the far right, imposing a discourse of „us and them“ has tried to foster a distorted view of immigration and the Muslim community, blindly ignoring that Muslims themselves are the main victims of extremists, in countries such as Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan.
Fortunately, the citizen response following the London attack showed that tolerance is overwhelmingly present in the UK. Numerous rallies took place all over Britain condemning the terrorist attack, including one symbolic act featuring Muslim women on Westminster Bridge showing their solidarity. Moreover, London, the most multicultural capital city in Europe, is a great example of progression, integration and diversity. The Muslim mayor of the city, Sadiq Khan said precisely that the terrorists target cities like London because its citizens „respect, embrace and celebrate one another“. This is the only way to tackle extremism: demonstrating tolerance and respect. However, on the other hand, racist and islamophobic right-wing propaganda only contributes to exacerbate it.