Editor’s comment: Islamophobic reaction to homophobic acid attack is ignorant and depressing

An example of the Islamophobic messages the Hackney Gazette received.

An example of the Islamophobic messages the Hackney Gazette received. - Credit: Archant

I’d have thought beating up innocent strangers and chucking corrosive fluid in their faces while shouting homophobic abuse would be reason enough to condemn the men jailed yesterday for the attack in Dalston.

But to read the comments we’ve received on social media this week you’d think the real crime they’d committed was, er... having Islamic names.

There’s been a lot of speculative Islamophobia (plus some people suggesting Diane Abbott is responsible for everything that happens in Hackney) filling up our timeline since last night. One person told us it was “disgusting” that we hadn’t said the acid attackers were Muslim. Someone told us the story was “fake news” (your guess is as good as mine).

This shouldn’t need explaining, but evidently it does. We didn’t say they were Muslim for the same reasons that we didn’t say they were Christian or vegetarian or good at bowling: (1) we don’t report stuff we don’t know and (2) their religion (if any) wasn’t deemed relevant by the court that sentenced them. These people are homophobic criminals. That’s it.

People of all religions, and none, commit crime. Most if not all religions have a fairly bloody history. People of all religions, and none, also live kind, selfless lives. Criminal behaviour is just that, whatever excuse people cook up for it. But being religious – and I say this as an atheist – is not a crime.

Special shout-out to the boneheads appointing themselves guardians of LGBT rights to justify their Islamophobia: as an actual gay man, I don’t want your bogus solidarity.

But what’s most depressing is the fact I’ve merely caught a glimpse. Toxic narratives like these are rattling around the far-right echo chamber constantly, sometimes with catastrophic consequences: Jo Cox; Darren Osborne. We are all responsible for calling it out.