Liberal, British writer J. K. Rowling is no stranger to circulating her open borders narrative to her 10.9 million Twitter followers. Last week, she shared an article on Twitter which implied that we have a problem with White, right wing terrorism in the UK. Included in her tweet, Rowling copied the title of the Independent’s article, and wrote: “One in three terror suspects in UK now white amid rise in far-right extremism.”
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ll know that we do have a problem with terrorism in Britain, but it isn’t a problem with White, right wing terrorism. It’s unclear whether Rowling actually read the article before she chose to share it. I would assume that somebody of her status would. Either way, the statistics are incredibly deceptive and misleading, to the point of being damn right dangerous. They purposely attempt to draw the reader’s attention away from the real terrorism-related issues we’re facing, with the aim of focusing our thoughts on a complete non-issue.
Before we examine Britain’s terrorism stats, let’s be clear that even if Rowling’s figure of “one in three” terror suspects being White is correct, this isn’t a worrying statistic anyway. Britain is a White-majority country so White people are expected to carry out the majority of terrorist attacks. However, Rowling has very nicely highlighted for us that they aren’t. By sharing the above article, Rowling is telling us that 66% of terror suspects are non-White.
To drill down into this a little further, 84% of people in Britain are White (79% of people in Britain being White British). This means that, according to Rowling, White people are only responsible for 39.3% of the terrorist-related arrests that they’re “expected” to be. Non-Whites, on the other hand, are responsible for a whopping 412.5% of the terrorist-related arrests that they’re “expected” to be.
Another thing to consider about Rowling’s article is that it’s a summary of arrests, and not of attacks. A lot of these suspects were arrested and then released, so counting the number of arrests isn’t a reliable way to monitor our terrorism threat. Even if this report was to monitor our terrorism threat by the number of attacks we’ve had, again, this method doesn’t make comparisons between an attack which killed one person and an attack which killed 2996 people. Bearing this in mind, I believe the most accurate way to monitor our terrorism threat is to look at the number of terrorist-related deaths. By doing this, we’re also able to rule out attacks towards property and “attacks” such as circulating propaganda. Although these kind of non-violent attacks do appear in Rowling’s article, examples likes these should by no means be categorised in the same league as stabbing somebody, blowing somebody up, or mowing somebody down with a truck.
Britain’s Terrorism Stats
The following is a summary of every terrorist attack that Britain has experienced since the millennium. I’ve chosen the millennium as a cut off point because I believe it’s important to consider the immediate threat, and not threats that we’ve experienced in the past. If we examined terrorism figures from the 1960s – 1990s, for example, this would highlight that Britain is under threat from the IRA. In the present day, however, we know that this is no longer the case.
These statistics are only for Britain, and not Ireland, or Europe, or the West in general. Since the millennium, the highest amount of British people killed in a terrorist attack was in fact the 67 people that were murdered in America in the Twin Towers attack on 11th September 2001. The following attacks, however, have all taken place in Britain as this allows us to consider the immediate threat on our own soil.
Britain’s Terrorist Attacks
7th July 2005: Often referred to as the 7/7 bombings, 52 people were killed in a series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks in London. Three bombs were set off on the London underground, and one was set off an overground double-decker bus. The four suicide bombers were also killed, bringing the death total to 56 that day. This was an Islamic terrorist attack carried out by four Muslim men. Three of the terrorists (Hasib Mir Hussain, Mohammed Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer) were of Pakistani descent. The fourth terrorist, Germaine Maurice Lindsay, was of Jamaican descent.
29th April 2013: Five days after his arrival in the UK, Ukrainian, Pavlo Lapshyn, stabbed 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem to death in a racially-motivated attack. Over the following months, Lapshyn placed a number of homemade bombs at three mosques. These attacks failed, however, as nobody was injured.
22nd May 2013: Off-duty British soldier Lee Rigby was attacked and killed by two Nigerian-decent Muslim men; Michael Abebolajo and Michael Adebowale.
16th June 2016: Labour MP, Jo Cox, was shot and stabbed by Scottish man, Thomas Mair, in what was described as a politically-motivated attack.
22nd March 2017: 52-year-old Muslim man Khalid Masood carried out a vehicle ramming/stabbing attack at Westminster, London, which resulted in five murders. Masood was also killed during the attack. Masood is thought to be of Nigerian decent, although this is unconfirmed.
22nd May 2017: Son of Libyan refugees, Salman Abedi, carried out an Islamic suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. 22 people were killed, making it Britain’s deadliest terror attack since the 7/7 bombings.
3rd June 2017: Three Muslim men, two which were of Moroccan descent (Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba) and one who was of Pakistani descent (Khuram Shazad Butt), carried out a vehicle ramming/stabbing attack across London Bridge. 8 people were confirmed dead. Additionally, the three terrorists were shot dead by police.
19th June 2017: A van was rammed into a crowd of Muslim men that were leaving Finsbury Park Mosque in what has been described as an “Islamophobic attack”. One person was declared dead, although it’s unclear whether this person died from the attack or from unrelated causes. The terrorist was revealed to be 47-year-old Welshman, Darren Osborne.
From the attacks above, we can conclude that there have been 91 deaths from terrorist attacks in Britain since the millennium. I have not included the deaths of the terrorists in these figures. These include:
- The 7/7 Bombings: 52 deaths
- Pavlo Lapshyn’s terrorism spree: 1 death
- Lee Rigby’s muder: 1 death
- Jo Cox’s murder: 1 death
- The Westminster attack: 5 deaths
- The Manchester Arena attack: 22 deaths
- The London Bridge attack: 8 deaths
- The Finsbury Park Mosque attack: 1 death
To go back to Rowling’s article and summarise whether we have a problem with White, right-wing terrorism in Britain, 3 of the above deaths were caused by White people (Pavlo Lapshyn’s terrorism spree, Jo Cox’s murder and the Finsbury Park Mosque attack). In comparison, 88 deaths were caused by non-Whites.
This means that White people are responsible for 3.3% of terrorist-related murders and non-Whites are responsible for 96.7% of terrorist-related murders.
If 84% of the population are responsible for 3.3% of terrorist-related murders, this means that White people are only responsible for 3.92% of the activity that they “should” be.
In comparison, if 16% of the population are responsible for 96.7% of terrorist-related murders, this means that non-Whites are responsible for 604% of the activity that they “should” be.
It’s important that we don’t beat around the bush here. Although Rowling and the Independent like to make connections between terrorism and race, there’s lots of variation in the races and nationalities we have listed above. One common connection that we can see, however, is that the 88 deaths that were caused by non-Whites were also all caused by Muslims.
To summarise, Muslims make up 5% of the population in Britain and they’re responsible for 96.7% of Britain’s terrorist-related murders since the millennium. This means that Islam is responsible for 1934% of the terrorist-related activity that it should be.
Well, would you look at that?
I’m sure if J. K. Rowling ever reads this article she’ll carry the opinion that I’m scapegoating Muslims. I’m not. This article is in fact a direct response to White, right wing people being wrongfully scapegoated instead. If people are going to fudge the statistics in order to push their liberal agenda, then it’s only fair that we look at those statistics in a bit more depth.
Rowling is right to highlight the fact that we have a present-day problem with terrorism in Britain, but it certainly makes sense to focus our attention on the real perpetrators, and not just a group that it’s easy to blame instead. This means we need to be having those awkward conversations and looking at Islam in a bit more depth. Whether we should have a particular focus on Wahhabism and Salafism rather than Islam in general; this is a discussion that we need to have. What we need to avoid, however, is drawing our attention away from Islam, and trying to blame a completely different ideology instead.
It’s easy for us to write J. K. Rowling off as a fiction writer, and not pay too much attention to her views. Just like many liberal-leaning celebrities, however, Rowling has nothing short of an army of fans. People like this have great influence when sharing their agenda-laden fake news.
It’s important that we always try to look at things in a little more depth, and we always try to push people to look beyond the headlines. When considering terrorism stats: population representation and classification considerations are the two things we need to look out for.