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Brutal act

23 June 2017

QUESTIONS have been raised about the categorisation of the attack on Muslim worshippers early on Tuesday morning as a terrorist incident. But even if it turns out that the perpetrator was a disturbed individual, acting on his own initiative, the intention was clearly to harm and terrorise a particular group. Muslim leaders have argued that those who carried out the terrorist attacks on London bridges and in Manchester were similarly disturbed, and that the ideology that inspired them was hardly more coherent than the comments that witnesses reported hearing in Finsbury Park. Thus ordinary British people again find themselves implicated in an attack with which they profoundly disagree, and of which they are ashamed.

Naturally enough, Islamic State propagandists are already making capital out of the incident, urging Muslims to “wake up — the war is now in your own streets”. If the Finsbury Park attack turns out to have been in retaliation for the earlier attacks, none will be more gleeful than IS. Its campaign to radicalise Muslims includes convincing those outside the faith to regard all its adherents as dangerous. The example set by the mosque’s imam is the best response to all such threats to law and order.


Farron’s fall


THERESA MAY has apologised to the former MPs in her party who, two years into what they assumed was a five-year tenure, found themselves out of a job on 8 June. It is unclear whether she extended her apology to Tim Farron, who stepped down as the Liberal Democrat leader on Thursday of last week. The Labour Party’s apparent disarray gave Liberal Democrats the idea that they might make up some of the ground they had lost; but two years was too short a time for the transformation that the party needed, and the resurgence of Labour meant that tactical voters dropped away in the final days of campaigning.

Mr Farron’s party secured 44,144 fewer votes than in 2015. The vagaries of the electoral system meant that the Lib Dems gained three more seats, raising their strength to 12, but this was far below expectations. In his resignation message, Mr Farron focused instead on the media’s obsession with his Evangelical Christianity. Under the pressure of public questioning, he faced Mrs May’s dilemma of trying to speak to two opposing constituencies: Evangelicals who have reservations, to put it mildly, about homosexuality, and the general run of Lib Dem voters, who have none. As Mr Farron said in his statement, he could have presented his case better. And he was correct, in theory, that at the heart of liberalism is the right to believe different things. But, having once equivocated on the subject of gay sex, he could not retrieve his reputation with Lib Dem voters who suspected him of hiding illiberal views.

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