British Soldier Lee Rigby Hacked to Death over Religion and Racism

British Soldier Lee Rigby Hacked to Death over Religion and Racism

Lee Rigby a drummer and soldier, was hacked to death in a London street, near an army barracks in southeast London.  The attack took place on a busy street during the afternoon, says BBC News.

The suspects have made known their support of Islamic extremism

The first suspect was Michael Adebowale, 22. CBS News reports that a second suspect has been taken into custody in connection with the murder.  Michael Adebolajo, 28, is also accused of the murder, as well as attempted murder of two police officers, and possession of a firearm.

After the murder, the two men were recorded in photographs and on video.  They were bloodied.

They appeared to espouse Islamic extremism, according to CBS News.

The killing and the religious espousal have incited right-wing and antifascist groups to engage in demonstrations, heightening tensions regarding religion in Britain.

CBS News reported that a post-mortem of Rigby revealed that he had died of “multiple incised wounds.”

BBC UK News identified Adebowale as a resident of Greenwich in south-east London.  Adebolajo lives in Essex.  Both men were hospitalized for injuries sustained when they were shot by police at the scene.

Adebowale is scheduled to face criminal charges at the Old Bailey in London next Monday. Adebolajo spent nine days in the hospital before he was charged

Religious and racial intolerance may have intensified the reactions to this murder.  There has been a rise in anti-Muslim incidents since Rigby’s slaying, say police, politicians and activists.

There have been opposing demonstrations in central London between groups espousing fascist views and those expressing opposition to racism.  150 supporters of the right-wing British National Party, carrying anti-Islamic placards, clashed with 58 anti-racist demonstrators outside Parliament.  There were insults and physical attacks.  The BNP claims to be anti-extremist.  Opponents argue that it is racist as well as anti-Muslim.  The BNP had initially planned to bring their demonstration to a nearby Islamic center.

Protests by right-wing and left-wing adherents in other British cities were not well supported.  Attendees at protests by both sides were outnumbered by a demonstration led by Queen guitarist Brian May, which was opposing the culling of badgers.

Rigby’s family released a plea for peace.  It stated that Rigby would be averse to attacks carried out against others in his name.

The reaction to black men allegedly advocating extremist religious beliefs who have been charged with hacking a man to death seems to have glossed over the fact that a charge is not a conviction.  Proof that these men were the perpetrators of these crimes has yet to be presented in a court of law.

England, like other countries, has experienced a history of religious intolerance, going back to 1290, when King Edward I issued the Edict of Expulsion, expelling all Jews from England. The edict remained in force for the rest of the Middle Ages.

Islam is the largest non-Christian religion in England.  According to a 2011 Census, there are 2.7 million Muslims in England, forming 5.0% of the population.  There have been cases of threats and attacks on Muslims and Muslim targets, such as Muslim graves and mosques. A report by the University of Exeter’s European Muslim Research Centre in 2010 noted that the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes has increased

British and other European colonial empires conducted a transatlantic slave trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, as did the US.

In the early 1980s, societal racism, discrimination, poverty and perceived oppressive policies by the police resulted in a series of riots in areas with substantial African-Caribbean populations (Q&A: The Scarman Report, BBC Online, 2004).

There are charges that institutional racism is practiced by UK employers and the legal profession.

 The British media has also faced criticism in recent years for propagating negative stereotypes of Muslims and fueling anti-Muslim prejudice.   In 2006, British cabinet ministers were likewise charged with helping to “unleash a public anti-Muslim backlash.” [John E. Richardson, (Mis) representing Islam: the racism and rhetoric of British broadsheet newspapers (2004)].

 Police forces in the United Kingdom have been accused of institutionalized racism since the late 20th century. An English officer was charged with attempting to strangle a man of African origin, while uttering racial expletives, during a riot in the summer of 2011. The UK Crown Prosecution Service declined to bring charges against the officers involved.

 The case of the slaying of Lee Rigby has brought racism and religious intolerance to light once again.

 Written by Tom Ukinski


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