jo cox memorial Memorial site for murdered MP Jo Cox. Photo: Flickr/Garry Knight

Why Thomas Mair, the white supremacist terrorist who murdered Jo Cox MP, should have been prosecuted for terrorism

I personally believe there is no such thing as a “Nazi lone wolf.” Wolves work in packs – just look at Britain First, the BNP and the EDL, they are supported by racist populists and they all work together.

Thomas Mair, Pavlo Lapshyn, Anders Breivik, David Copeland, Timothy McVeigh to name a few of them. The ideology that motivated these people was white racist supremacist ideas dressed up as patriotism. And the way the media portrays or discusses these white terrorists is very different to how they discuss so-called Muslims involved in any criminal acts.

In these cases, the Muslim community is collectively held responsible for what individuals do. There is no such equivalent to Thomas Mair’s horrific brutal murder of Jo Cox – Mair stabbed Jo Cox 15 times and shot her in the head three times.

We have to recognise the encouragement and address the hatred of the “other.” Where did it originate from? I feel politicians and the media are to blame; look at David Cameron, he is not a fascist but he was happy to use racism when discussing the refugee crisis. He called refugees on Holocaust Memorial Day just a “bunch of migrants,” and previously he called them a “swarm.” Racist, Islamophobic talk cost lives and I call it hate speech. We must always stand together with those against us and who seek to divide us.

I lost my father Mohammed Saleem but never lost his soul and that is what lives with me and my family although it has taken a while and I now finally feel the blessing of his life. The Nazi terrorists who murdered my father tried to murder what they disliked whether it be a Muslim father, grandfather, great grandad like my dad or the MP Jo Cox.

Thomas Mair

Thomas Mair has been found guilty of the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox and has been given a whole life sentence. But the question that runs through my mind is: why was Mair tried for murder when his crime was clearly an act of far-right terrorism? Mair was not charged with terrorist offences and the use of the word terrorism was not used during the trial.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was easier to prosecute him for murder. Prosecuting him for a terrorism charge means that the prosecution would have to establish that he was a terrorist, which would have meant a longer trial as the jury would have to consider his motives.

I spoke with Saira Zafar, an Equalities and Injustice activist, about the Jo Cox case and she said:

“Thomas Mair was a Britain First Nazi supporting terrorist. This was by definition an act of brutal, vicious and barbaric terrorism. During the attack witnesses say he shouted ‘Britain First,’ ‘death to traitors’ and ‘this is for Britain.’ Mair had Third Reich and Swastika memorabilia and substantial amount of Nazi documentation in his home.”

Despite what Saira said the murder was not treated as a terrorism offence and the media failed to describe it as such. The Guardian was the only mainstream press headline I saw that used the word “terrorism” after the trial. LBC’s James O’Brien asked a relatively good question as to “why a white supremacist terrorist convicted of the murder of a serving MP, doesn’t get a mention until page 30 in the the Daily Mail?” He also asked if they would have responded the same if the murderer was a Muslim.

Saira concluded:

“This is a clear example of white privilege, and blatant double standards when it comes to terrorism. The terrorism word is saved for Muslims only, in order to enhance the Islamophobia industry and to help fulfill a Western political agenda. If it were a Muslim who had shouted Allahu Akbar, all major news headlines would have automatically called it terrorism. And it would have been treated as such, all Muslims would be held accountable, and Muslim countries would be bombed in return.”

“Mair was radicalised by Britain First, a far right extremist organisation inciting hatred and causing division among those who live in the UK. The killing of Jo Cox should be enough to ban Britain First. Why should we wait for another one of their terrorists to do the same to someone else?”

And I totally agree with Saira’s comments.

We must organise

The lesson I am learning from my own personal journey into investigating far-right extremism is to retain my faith because we are surrounded by hypocrites and this includes politicians and the mainstream media who refuse to address the rise of far-right extremism. Every robbed life and every closed mouth requires the voice of the living to give testimony that we will stand up and not let this happen to an individual or group. This is the test for the 21st century not to repeat the horrors of the 20th century.

Donald Trump represents Islamophobia, racism and anti-Semitism and Marine Le Pen comes from a fascist party so it’s time for us to stand up and make sure history doesn’t repeat itself. This is why I find it was an absolute disgrace that Marine Le Pen was allowed a platform on the Andrew Marr show on Remembrance Sunday. Why not interview British veterans who fought fascists and lost fellow comrades to the Nazis? I say zero platform for Nazis – I am not despairing and I am preparing to fight for equality and justice as all of us should.

But we have to organise with people of other faiths, other races, and people of no-faith in order to deserve democracy. Muslims in Europe face a great peril; they are being scapegoated for austerity and crisis as were the Jews in the 1930s. The echoes of the 1930s are here in the present.

We have to actively change history. If our enemies organise than we must organise as well. We must speak out and act now, and then we can win. A minority is only a minority if it doesn’t organise itself.

Maz Saleem

Maz Saleem is the daughter of 82-year-old Mohammed Saleem, who was murdered in Birmingham just yards from his house by Ukrainian far-right terrorist Pavlo Lapshyn. Maz is an active campaigner against racism and Islamophobia in Britain.

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