The brutal killing of British soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich on 22 May was murder, not war. Just like the drone assassinations of supposed Taliban and al Qaida figures who are not actively engaged in combat. All actions of this sort are indefensible.
David Cameron has called the murder "an attack on Britain and on the British way of life." It was not. It was an attack on one soldier intended, according to the reported words of the attackers, as retaliation for the killing of Muslims in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Cameron also says it was "a betrayal of Islam and of the Muslim communities who give so much to our country."
Cameron's comments are sugared with praise for the Muslim community but they evoke the worn-out cliches of a clash of civilisations. He must know perfectly well that comments like these will not deflect the racist hatred already being directed against British Muslims.
London mayor Boris Johnson says it is "completely wrong to blame this killing on the religion of Islam and it is also equally wrong to link this murder to the actions of British foreign policy." He's right to disconnect the murder from Islam, but it cannot be disconnected from Britain's wars of aggression in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The British government's wars are wrong. But the government's collective responsibility for that carnage doesn't diminish the responsibility of individuals who commit dreadful crimes either to further the government's policy or to oppose it.
The Woolwich murder must not be used as a pretext for yet more anti-terrorism laws or new surveillance and monitoring initiatives. Such measures threaten all our liberties, reduce our capacity to respond to destructive politics, and create the climate of suspicion and fear that leads some people to resort to terrorism.
The British government must end its attempts to occupy other people's countries. Individuals contemplating crimes under the umbrella of the war must remember their obligations under our shared human values and under domestic and international law. And all of us in Britain must resist the racism that feeds off the war and feeds war.
Richard Haley, Chair, Scotland Against Criminalising Communities
More comments on the murder of Lee Rigby
- Statement by the Stop the War Coalition and CND
- Lessons to learn from the Woolwich killing are obvious by Lindsey German, Stop the War Coalition
- Woolwich attack: of course British foreign policy had a role by Joe Glenton (former soldier)
- The backlash has alraedy begun - Moazzam Begg