On June 19, 2017, Darren Osbourne deliberately drove into a group of people outside of a London Mosque, injuring several and murdering Makram Ali. Osbourne, of Wales, was found guilty of murder on February 2, 2018, and sentenced to a minimum of 43 years in prison. During the trial, jurors discovered Osbourne intended to drive into a crowd during a parade but could not find an opportunity. Instead, he drove around until midnight, when a large crowd left the mosque during the holy month of Ramadan. Police and prosecutors are calling Osbourne’s crime an act of terrorism.
Friends of Osbourne claim that he had not previously expressed far-right views, but became radicalized through exposure to the media. Specifically, Osbourne was a fan of the television program “Three Girls,” about white women being harassed by Pakistani men. According to police, the show spawned his research on various far-right websites. Shortly after the attack, many British leaders condemned the act of terrorism and reminded everyone that extremism comes in many forms. Prime Minister Theresa May spoke shortly after the attack, calling Osbourne’s actions “sickening.” She said, “This was an attack on Muslims near their place of worship and like all terrorism, in whatever form, it shares the same fundamental goal. It seeks to drive us apart and to break the precious bonds of solidarity and citizenship that we share in this country. We will not let this happen.”
In court, witnesses claimed to have heard Osbourne shout, “I’ve done my job,” while trying to escape. Osbourne defended his actions, claiming an accomplice named Dave was the actual person driving but could provide no explanation as to why the CCTV cameras only showed one person in the car. Sue Hemming who works for the British Crown Prosecution Services, said, “we have been clear throughout that this was a terrorist attack, and he must now face the consequences of his actions.”
Though the verdict of the case is not surprising, many Muslims are excited to see a strong response against Islamophobia in England. With the influx of migrants and refugees, Islamophobia is on the rise across Europe, including Great Britain. The Muslim Council of Britain, (MCB), released a statement supporting the case but also expressed concern for the Islamophobia in England that allowed such an attack in the first place. According to Secretary General of the MCB Harun Khan, “we heard during the trial how Osborne was motivated by anti-Muslim groups and Islamophobic tropes not only prevalent in far-right circles, but also made acceptable in our mainstream. The case tells us that we must all exercise caution when tempted to stigmatize any group of people, regardless of color, creed or community.” The stigmatization of Muslims is a major problem in England. Darren Osbourne is just one example of the dangers caused by such stigmatization.