Eleven people were killed and six wounded in a horrific shooting at a synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighbourhood of Pittsburgh, which took the lives of our Jewish brothers and sisters. As a British Muslim, who has experienced hate in the past, I stand with the Jewish community in solidarity and call for action against the perpetrator and the far right. I believe that it is important that we stand hand in hand against antisemitism, islamophobia and all forms of hate and ensure to take a united stance against those who try to divide us.
Frustratingly, US President Donald Trump, has handled the whole tragedy with little consideration to those who have lost their lives or their loved ones. Trump continued his political rally where he joked and resumed as normal and even went as far as saying that the “temple should have had protection inside”. Trump should have cancelled his rally and showed support for those who were grieving and refrained from his insensitive and stupid comments. However, what can we expect from a president who himself has fuelled hate in the past three years of his presidency. Donald Trump has no credibility in uniting the US against hate and has failed in handling the aftermath of this tragedy.
I am frustrated with the fact that the perpetrator is not being called out for what he really is: a terrorist. The man opened fire on innocent civilians with an intent to harm due to his own prejudices. If you refuse to believe he is a terrorist, let’s take a look at the definition of the word, which states, “A person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims”. The suspect, Robert Bowers, held far right views against the Jewish community and he was upset that the Jewish community had helped Muslim refugees according to his posts on social media. In addition, his alleged last words before opening fire were “All Jews must die” and he accused Jews of helping “evil Muslims” come into the United States in his social media posts. Bowers often posted on the site Gab, a social media network favoured by white nationalists, neo-Nazis and other “alt-right” figures. Disturbingly, if this man held far right political views and wanted to cause harm, then he should be treated as a threat to society through the eyes of the law.
Amidst the heartache of the tragedy, humanity has kicked in with people from all backgrounds coming together in support of the victims. A Muslim organisation in America raised over $50,000 for the victims and the families of the Pittsburgh shooting and towards funeral costs. The community spirit has really shone through showing that we will not tolerate antisemitism or any form of hate. Nobody should ever have to live in fear for following their faith or expressing their identity. It is therefore imperative that we continue to stand united against all forms of hate and only then will we be able to defeat those who want to disrupt peace, tolerance and stability around the world.