We are all equal in death, but not all deaths are the same
It is worth remembering those attacked and killed by racists for being Muslim, like Mohammed Saleem, 75, slaugtered in Birmingham, by vanload of white men earlier this month. But we mustn't score those attacks off against this attack, out of masochistic self-indulgent self-hatred or in some obscene zero sum identity politics game.I had said roughly the same thing on Twitter earlier. Helen Gray, an old blogospheric friend, pointed out to me that noone knows who killed Mohammed Saleem, and that it certainly wasn't a vanload of white men. I got the van from the Guardian report, which mentioned a van, but did not say what I inferred:
Officers want to trace a white man, aged 25-32, of medium height and build, spotted on CCTV footage running near the scene of the attack around the time it happened, just before 10.30pm. Police also want to trace a seven-seat people carrier captured on CCTV, driving near the mosque with the two male occupants, both white and in their 30s, who are considered "significant witnesses".Police are not ruling out "a racial motive", but nor are they saying it was a hate crime. Locally circulating stories have spoken about a family feud, for instance. I made a huge leap, and was wrong to do so. I am amending the post (correcting my typos at the same time!).
I think this is a good illustration of the liberal reader reading what they want to read, for which I am ashamed, and of social media accelerating the already over-speedy circulation of untruths.
Liberals on social media have been using Saleem's killing to illustrate the everyday racism of our media, which makes Lee Rigby's killing a huge spectacle and Saleem's killing a local inside pages type of crime. In fact, however, while Rigby's life is not worth more than Saleem's, his killing his more significant, because of the extraordinary way it was carried out and because it was part of something important and disturbing about the world we live in during this current motive.
UPDATE 29 MAY: Two relevant pieces of information I should add:
1. It has been alleged, both by Mr Saleem's daughter and by other locals, that the EDL were active in the area prior to the killing, and there is a widespread belief that the attacks was a reprisal for the botched attach by idiotic Birmighham Islamists on a Dewsbury EDL march, which had been in the news that week. "A police source said the incident room had received “a significant” number of calls from local Muslims claiming an increase in racial abuse and sightings of “suspicious looking young white men” in the area."
2. On the other hand, there are other possibilities, not linked to racism or Islamophobia or the EDL: "It is understood detectives are also investigating the possibility that Mr Saleem may have been targeted because of long-running family feud with its roots in Pakistan."
Image credit: Birmingham Mail, via Scribberlings.