Can white people ever be suspected of terrorism?

Damon Smith

maz saleemMaz Saleem is a campaigner against racism and Islamophobia. You can follow her on Twitter @CampaignerMaz

Maz Saleem, whose father was murdered by a white terrorist, asks if the mainstream media will ever call a white man a “terrorist” or “suspected terrorist?”

A 19 year old white man was arrested on Friday afternoon and tasered by armed police in North London in connection with an alleged Tube bomb plot. According to his friends, he was obsessed with ISIS videos and had shown them videos posted on the dark web showing people being executed and burned alive in cages. He had also bought guns and air rifles off the Internet, they said, and had been questioned in the past by counter terrorism police about the videos.

But Damon Smith has yet to be called a suspected “terrorist” by any media outlet. So if a politically-driven non-white person is suspected of doing something violent, they are automatically dubbed a terrorist; but if a politically-driven white person does something violent the term never comes up.

Police said Smith was arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation and instigation of terrorist acts under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000. According to media reports, a bomb is said to have been located at his home and another found on the Underground yet the media hasn’t used the word “terrorist.” Once again when the alleged perpetrator is white they have instead pushed out “Lone Wolf” headlines.

Mohammed Saleem (left) and his killer Pavlo Lapshyn
Mohammed Saleem (left) and his killer Pavlo Lapshyn

Coincidentally, this week commemorates three years since the terrorist Pavlo Lapshyn was sentenced to jail for 40 years for the murder of my father Mohammed Saleem. I remember clearly looking at him in the dock at the Old Bailey whilst the judge was reading out the sentence. And I remember the subsequent headlines that screamed “Lone Wolf” and not “Terrorist” even though he was charged under terrorism laws.

Why does the mainstream media do this? Because the racist Islamophobic rhetoric the Conservative government continuously spews out to the British public and laws such as the racist Prevent agenda fit in with the narrative that only Muslims (especially non-white Muslims) are terrorists and white people are not.

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Theresa May’s racist Prevent programme clearly seems to be targeting Muslims and people of colour. So the alleged terrorist in question has not been deemed a terrorist in any of the headlines because of the simple fact that he is white. This is deeply racist and we need to stand up to this type of biased reporting and make it clear that it is unacceptable.

The right-wing press has often negatively portrayed Muslims or people of colour with very little evidence as “terrorists” even though they had unfounded links to terrorism. But when an alleged white terrorist is suspected of committing acts of terrorism they are “poker-loving Lone Wolfs.”

Well wolves work in packs and I certainly believe Pavlo Lapshyn was not a lone wolf on the night of my father’s brutal terrorist murder. A lot of questions need to be raised once again.

5Pillars is committed to showcasing a variety of views on the website. As with all our opinion pieces, the views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the 5Pillars editorial board.

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