South London Attack: Acts of Violence Shall Fail to Divide Us03 Feb 2020
The stabbing in Streatham, my local area, is deeply distressing. This incident was at the heart of multicultural and multi-faith Streatham. Any of us could have been a victim, and this incident was an attack on us all.
Our capital city remains a beacon for progressive ideas, liberal values, decency and diversity. Our Mayor, Sadiq Khan has repeatedly stated, the strength of London is in its diversity. We celebrate and welcome people from countless ethnicities and all faiths and religions and none.
Using a knife to indiscriminately stab innocent civilians in a busy high street is cowardly, and shows the twisted mindset of the extremists who are willing to abuse the rights and liberties they enjoy to attack the freedom of others.
Local faith leaders in the area are condemning the attack, and are coming together to highlight the cooperation, love and respect we have built across our communities. Our resolve means we will not allow such incidents to divide us.
There is a sense of unity in not only Streatham but also around the city. Some have noted that Londoners are using social media to express their feelings of solidarity with the victims, and pride at living in a “strong, tolerant, progressive and diverse” city.
Unfortunately, we have also seen those who are seeking to use such incidents to sow division and hatred, but overwhelming numbers of South Londoners have already started to come together to prove why these violent acts will always fail. Far from driving hatred and divisiveness in our society, such incidents unite us all regardless of faith background, religion or none.
The local church, St. Leonard’s Streatham was open for first respondents and members of the public in the immediate aftermath of the incident, and prayers were said at the evening service.
There are many questions about why this stabbing happened so soon after the release of this convicted criminal. As the managing director of my own charity – Youth Empowerment Solutions (www.yescharity.org) – based in Brixton, with a team of dedicated professional and highly trained outreach youth workers, I have witnessed first-hand the impact of cuts on our services as well as youth work and probation. If we want to stop re-offenders, we must build more effective rehabilitation programmes and ensure we have strong partnerships with credible community groups.
Years of cuts in youth services have had a direct impact on some of these young people. Early intervention is essential in order to protect the next generation from criminality, gangs, knives, guns and extremism – which we have been very effective in reducing despite little or no funding, due to the social fund cutbacks and ongoing austerity.
Lambeth reflects all major world religions and faiths. When it is targeted, we respond with positivity and love. We recognise that together, we are stronger.