Hate in Finsbury Park

By June 20, 2017UK Politics

Just after midnight, on the morning of June 19, a van ran down several people just outside the Finsbury Park Mosque. After initial uncertainty as to whether it was an accident or an attack, it became clear that it was an attack against Muslims, and it was called for what it supposedly was, an act of terrorism. It was also reported by people at the scene that the driver of the van shouted “I want to kill all Muslims”1.

Terrorism has a long history and terrorists have been of all persuasions. The Irgun was a Zionist paramilitary organisation that operated in the Palestine Mandate in the 1930s and 1940s2. It bombed buildings, markets, shot up villages and left improvised explosive devices in various places. One of the worst atrocities was the bombing of the King David Hotel (British Headquarters at the time) in Jerusalem, on July 22, 1946. 91 people died, most of whom were civilians, and most of whom were Arabs or Palestinian Jews. On April 9th, 1948, Irgun also shot up the Deir Yassin village, killing 107 Palestinians, including women and children3. These operations were undertaken when the commander (1943-1948) of Irgun was Menachem Begin, who later became Prime Minister of Israel (1977-1983)2.

The Irish Republican Army was also a terrorist organisation and has had several incarnations from the First World War to the most recent versions subsequent to the split of 1969. The history of these post-1969 incarnations is more like the plot of the ‘Life of Brian’ (People’s Front of Judea?), than an organisation attempting to reunite Ireland, unsuccessfully. After the split in 1969 there were the Official IRA, the Provisional IRA, the Continuity IRA and the Real IRA4. They operated all over the UK from the early 1970s until 2001. Like Irgun, they were quite indiscriminate in their murders. A car bomb was placed outside Harrods on December 17th, 1983, killing six people including three police officers, and wounding 90. On the 20th of March, 1993, two small bombs went off in rubbish bins in Warrington, killing two children and injuring more than 50 people5.

Calling such acts terrorism gives it a frisson of excitement or suggests some purpose, like those professed by Irgun and the various IRAs, but the Finsbury Park attack was not an act of political or religious extremism. It seems the perpetrator was just a thick loser who believed what the buffoons of the right told him that Muslims were taking over the world or the UK or London, or maybe even Wales. I think it would be better to call all these incidents ‘hate crimes’ for that is what they are. To kill men, women and children indiscriminately as Irgun, the IRA and ISIS do, requires a great deal of hatred. It requires so much hatred that you look upon other people’s children as a target for a bullet, bomb or grenade, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they are just like your children.


  1. https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/live/2017/jun/19/north-london-van-incident-finsbury-park-casualties-collides-pedestrians-live-updates?page=with:block-59471b02e4b0d5ab311e9234#liveblog-navigation
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irgun
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Irgun_operations
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Republican_Army
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_terrorist_incidents_in_Great_Britain


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