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Refugee with anti-homosexual history slaughters 3 gay men during Pride Month, but it’s TOO EARLY to speculate about homophobia?

Guy Birchall
Guy Birchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

Guy Birchall, British journalist covering current affairs, politics and free speech issues. Recently published in The Sun and Spiked Online. Follow him on Twitter @guybirchall

Refugee with anti-homosexual history slaughters 3 gay men during Pride Month, but it’s TOO EARLY to speculate about homophobia?
The UK’s MSM’s gone eerily silent over the attack, and the country’s most prominent LGBTQI+ charity, Stonewall, didn’t cite homophobia in its tweet about it, but did mention Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia. What’s going on?

Does anyone else find it slightly odd that a crime committed in Minnesota has been top of the British news agenda for over a month, yet a shocking triple murder in Berkshire last weekend is already slipping down the schedules?

The stabbing rampage that took place in Reading over the weekend could easily have passed you by over the past few days in Britain. Three men – James Furlong, Joe Ritchie-Bennett and David Wails – were all knifed to death in broad daylight, as they gathered with friends in the sunny surroundings of Reading’s Forbury Gardens.

The alleged perpetrator has been identified as Khairi Saadallah, a Libyan refugee recently released early from prison. He has a documented history of mental health issues and drug use, and has now been arrested on suspicion of a terror-related offence – but, apparently, we need “more information” before we start speculating on his motives.

Well, there’s some information about the victims that might be relevant: all three men happened to be gay and were killed in June, which is Pride Month. More information was also forthcoming from an acquaintance of Saadallah. The acquaintance also happens to be gay. He told The Sun that Saadallah had said to him: “In my country, disgusting people like you would be beheaded.”

The three men who died were also all white. Saadallah is not. He has a previous conviction for racially aggravated assault. It’s believed he lived in a flat opposite a pub where the three men drank regularly.

There seems to be some confusion about whether he is a Muslim or had converted to Christianity. A man purporting to be his cousin claims he converted to Christianity three years ago, but his mother is reported as saying he “struggled during Ramadan,” which would be an odd statement were he a Christian. However, regardless of which religion he subscribes to, it appears he has a pretty Biblical/Koranic view of homosexuality. He had been known to anti-terrorism agencies since last year, although they’d failed to open a file on him.

In view of all of this information, it seems odd that any speculation that this act could have been motivated by homophobia, race or religion is being immediately shut down in the mainstream media. One doesn’t imagine there would be the same reticence in speculation had the attacker been wearing a cap embroidered with ‘Make America Great Again,’ or if the victims had all been minority ethnic and the perpetrator white, or even if all the victims were gay and the perpetrator had been straight and also white.

One would imagine that it was at least worth entertaining the possibility that the motive for a suspected terrorist having stabbed three gay men to death during Pride Month might have had something to do with homophobia, and perhaps also something to do with his religion. But no, even after three members of its community were slaughtered in a park, Stonewall didn’t think homophobia was worth mentioning. It said it was “heartbroken” over the deaths, but added, “We can’t let Islamophobic, racist and xenophobic rhetoric be used to divide us. We must stand together to make progress.”

How is Islamophobia higher on the list of things to worry about in the wake of three gay men being stabbed than homophobia? What manner of mental gymnastics have to be performed for the primary concern of an LGBTQI+ charity to be that adherents of a religion that believes that gay people will burn in hellfire are the ones really at risk here?

It’s interesting how, following other attacks, there has been no such reluctance to cite homophobia as a motivation. Last summer, after two lesbians were attacked on a London bus, the Independent newspaper published an op-ed titled “The casual, bloody violence inflicted on two lesbians on a London bus is just a glimpse of British homophobia.” According to the writer, this was because “austerity, pro-Leave propaganda, and Tory rule have created a toxic environment – one where fascism, hate and toxic masculinity can flourish unchecked.”

Right, so austerity and leaving the European Union is responsible for a lesbian couple being beaten up on a bus, but potential Islamic radicalism had nothing to do with three gay men being stabbed to death in a park?

In another case earlier this year, a woman in Sunderland claimed she’d been the victim of numerous homophobic attacks. Again, the media had no worry in labeling these attacks what they were, despite no perpetrators having been arrested.

In both cases, LGBTQI+ groups were quick to condemn the homophobia behind the attacks. So, why in this case, do we need “more information” before at least considering that this might be a motivation? Breakfast-TV presenter Piers Morgan was slammed for suggesting the sexuality of the Reading victims might have played a part in their being slaughtered. A guest on his show said that evidence suggested it was all just a “sad coincidence,” while a poster on Twitter countered, “As a gay man, I’m disgusted that you are running this story as a homophobic attack.”

Forgive me, but shouldn’t you be more disgusted that three gay men have been stabbed to death, rather than with the speculation around the motive? The fact that the attack follows exactly the same pattern as other attacks perpetrated by Islamic terrorists in the UK should ring some alarm bells. The second London Bridge mass stabbing happened just last year, or have we already forgotten that?

Far-right hatred and terrorism in Britain is rightly condemned for what it is – indeed, people are often so quick to condemn it, they often turn out to have been mistaken. But for some reason, attacks perpetrated by suspected Islamic terrorists always require “more information.” Their ideology can’t have been the main motivating factor, it’s claimed. No, that would have to be “Western foreign policy” or “institutional racism” or “lack of opportunity.”

The simple answer as to why this happens has to be that it doesn’t fit in with the prevailing narrative. We’ve had weeks of Black Lives Matter protests in this country, following the death of a man 4,000 miles away. Yet three gay men are slaughtered in our own backyard and there’s not a hint of a protest – in fact, their deaths were lower on yesterday’s news agenda than the trailing of a potentially racist airplane banner.

Speculating on motivation can at times be dangerous, but for it to be done with impunity in one instance and actively stifled in another is a ridiculous double standard. What it reveals is that, for some reason, an ethnic-minority refugee turned potential Islamic terrorist outranks three gay men in the victimhood hierarchy, regardless of who is doing the stabbing and who is doing the dying.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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