The Woolwich Murder: My Column in the Morley Observer & Advertiser

Events in Woolwich last Wednesday have sickened us all. The killing of a young man, who’d dedicated his life and career to serving his country, goes beyond comprehension.  
Lee Rigby was an army hero who fought for our country to protect us all. His hometown of Middleton is just a short drive from here across the Pennines. Back in the UK both he and his family considered him to be safe. But his life has been brutally cut short and I’m sure the people of Morley, like people across the country, all spent moments over the last week trying to fathom how this could have happened here in the UK.
But it’s clear that, far from causing division within our communities, a tragedy like this brings British people closer together. Our sympathies and thoughts are with Lee’s family and those who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. And our actions are to support our troops and charities like Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion. Some people may try to use the attack as an excuse for more violence and hatred. But the overwhelming majority say, ‘not in my name’.
Instead we unite around the spirit and bravery of those who challenged the attackers and put their own safety at risk. One woman in particular put herself in harm’s way to protect parents and children leaving a school close by, unhindered by the danger she was in.
Since the attack, the police and security services have been working tirelessly to bring all of those responsible to justice. Politics is put aside in times like this. Everyone works together to keep the public safe. And right across the country, community leaders, of all faiths, have also been speaking out to condemn what happened.
We should all be in no doubt too that these acts weren’t made by a religious group. These were the actions of terrorists, bent on undermining the very fabric of our society.
In the coming weeks and months politicians on all sides will be working hard to ensure the country is kept safe both at home and abroad. I welcome the Government’s ‘Prevent’ strategy to tackle extremism, but it must now be resourced properly and it must listen to those who are working with young people in our communities.

I firmly believe that rather than dividing the country, these actions will only succeed in making our communities stronger – and more united too.

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Posted May 29th, 2013 by Ed