‘You Ain’t No Muslim, Bruv!’: London ‘Terror Attack’ Response An Easy Out To Protect Islam?

In a video showing the arrest of a man who attacked three people with a knife in a London tube station, an incident labelled as a “terrorist attack” because the attacker screamed “This is for Syria!”, we hear a young man shouting “You ain’t no Muslim, Bruv!” This statement has grabbed the attention of social media and given birth to the twitter hashtag #YouAintNoMuslimBruv.

The hashtag, as pointed out by the New York Times, is being used to attempt to show that real Muslims don’t resort to violence like the act committed in that London tube station. It’s meant to show that hurting innocent people is un-Islamic, which is an understandable desire by some Muslims to want to do. But, what it also does is try to eliminate any connection with Islam, Muslims and violence, and that is inaccurate. The answer to “You ain’t no Muslim, Bruv!” is simple. Yes, the man in the video attacking people in a London tube station with a knife could very well be Muslim. The idea that doing such things means that he is not a Muslim is false.

As Mashable points out, there is no doubt that many Muslims feel under attack when incidents like the London attack that may be perpetrated by fellow Muslims occur. There is a real need for many to try and protect innocent Muslims from discrimination and harm. In fact, society as a whole must do this. The innocent must be protected. No innocent Muslim deserves to pay the price for the actions of Muslims like the London tube station attacker who choose to act out in violence. However, in the quest to protect Muslims, there is also this desire to defend the religion from any criticism and this is not an accurate statement, nor is the claim that Muslims do not perform acts of violence because as soon as they do, they are not a Muslim.

Saying that the London tube station attacker in the video isn’t a Muslim would be false. It is not up to the man in the video saying “You ain’t no Muslim, Bruv!” to determine whether the attacker is Muslim or not. He may feel that his actions are not Islamic, but that does not mean he isn’t a Muslim. Nor does it mean that Islam isn’t necessarily playing a role here.

What we see in the London tube station attack video is a perfect micro-example of what is happening on a much grander scale across the world. An attack like what happened in Paris takes place and Muslims feel that they must go on the defensive. And, there is no doubt that in many ways they do. One only has to look as far as people like Donald Trump and his rhetoric, and the anti-Muslim sentiments by some of his supporters, to see why this is the case.

But, while Donald Trump is being completely out of touch with his statements, there is an equal disconnect from reality when it comes to trying to distance any and all violence by Muslims from Islam, or to even claim that a Muslim who commits violence is not a Muslim. And in the process, it does stifle debate and criticism of the religion of Islam itself, or looking at true motives for some of these attacks. To merely say “You ain’t no Muslim, Bruv!” in response to the attack in London is, in some ways, a way to shut down any discussion. It’s protecting the religion in an attempt to protect Muslims.

There is a middle ground here that must be addressed. The idea that as soon as violence is committed a Muslim ceases to be Muslim is not a rational perspective. That’s like saying a Republican is no longer a Republican if they agree to some forms of gun control. That’s like saying a communist is no longer a communist if they admit that capitalism in some forms can be good. It’s like saying a Christian is no longer a Christian if they bomb an abortion clinic.

One admirable advantage to the man in the video saying “You ain’t no Muslim, Bruv!” is to take a certain amount of the power away from who the London tube station attacker is, how he identifies himself, and how he is acting. It’s not that he isn’t a Muslim, but, if the attacker had listened to him, would it have an influence on him to reconsider his actions? Clearly, the London tube station attacker was not in a state where he could listen to the man saying “You ain’t no Muslim, Bruv!,” but the attempt to communicate to him can and should be seen as positive.

However, even if there was a positive reason to make the statement “You ain’t no Muslim, Bruv!” it doesn’t exactly mean that it’s true and shouldn’t be looked at outside the context of trying to prevent that act of violence. Again, with “You ain’t no Muslim, Bruv” in response to the London tube station “terror attack”, the mark has been missed. The middle ground truth about Islam and some Muslims has been lost, misrepresented by both the Trump’s and the “You ain’t no Muslim, Bruv!” advocates of the world.

[Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images]