Eighteen people were taken to the hospital on Friday morning in London after what police are calling an Improvised Explosive Device went off on the London tube at Parson's Green station, according to The Guardian. The bomb was reportedly built in a bucket, and so far the police are investigating the incident as terrorism. The number of terrorist attacks in the United Kingdom in 2017 has been pretty high, but there are a number of reasons for that.
The IED went off around 8:20 a.m. local time, according to the BBC. Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley said that police presence in London will be increased as detectives investigate; he also asked that people remain "vigilant."
South African Gillian Wixley, who was sitting eight seats down from the device, told The Guardian:
I first heard a loud bang, followed by smoke and fire rising upwards. ... It was chaotic: things were flying everywhere and people were falling over as they got off. There was lots of people panicking and people were injured due to the crush.
... I heard a girl screaming, ‘Get off the train!’. Everyone rushed out and as I looked back I could see flames going up the wall. I was near the back of the train but toward the front people were running towards the exit. We were more worried about doing this because moving forward would mean moving passed where the fire was.
Wixley and other eyewitnesses described seeing victims whose faces were burned by the explosion. Wixley said, "One woman came up and I could see that the whole of her hair on side was singed. She was holding her ear and saying ‘I have to get out’." Other passengers were reportedly trampled as they were trying to get out of the train, The Sun reported.
This attack marks the fourth major terrorist attack in the U.K. in 2017, according to CNN. But The Economist reported that this attack is the fifth major attack in Britain in 2017: the first was the attack outside of Parliament where pedestrians were run over with a vehicle and two police officers were stabbed in March; the second was another vehicle attack on London Bridge in June; the third was another vehicle attack at a mosque where the driver said he "wanted to kill all Muslims," according to The Guardian. And the fourth attack of 2017 was in May at the Manchester Arena, where a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured as many as 200, according to the BBC.
There are a few important notes to take away from these numbers. First, note that one was a major attack on the Muslim community, which was likely the result of Islamophobic language perpetuated by people like the United States president, who seems to want to attribute any terror attack to Islam as a whole religion. (Though he does not call out extreme right-wing attacks like the one in Finsbury Park as being characteristic of the entire right.) Trump responded to the attack, as he always does, in a series of tweets on Friday morning. He called the terrorist a "loser" and said this is a sign that his travel ban should be even larger, "far tougher," and more specific.
The president is referring to his temporary ban on the entrance of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. No one has been killed in a terror attack post 9/11 in the United States by anyone from the countries on Trump's list, according to Politifact. The strange thing about Trump's statement is that, without even knowing the motivations or background of the attacker, he is clearly already assuming they are Muslim. Because his ban targets Muslim-majority countries, the association is clear — and he has said this himself — that he believes you have to be Muslim in order to be a terrorist. That statement is not only racist, but it is wildly untrue and misrepresentative of 3.3 million Muslims in the United States or the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide — 23 percent of the world's population practices Islam and does it completely peacefully (violence goes against many of the major tenets of Islam).
Lastly, it's also important to note that terrorism, overall, has gone down dramatically in the U.K., despite what Trump would like people to think of the country, which has just over 100,000 refugees living in the country. Still, from 2000 to 2017, 126 people were killed in terror attacks in the U.K., according to The Telegraph. In the 15 years prior to 2000, 1,094 people died in terror attacks — showing a drastic drop.
The lives lost in terrorist attacks matter — there's obviously no doubt there. But to use those lives lost as figures to hold up as justification for hatred of an entire overwhelmingly peaceful religion is ignorant and not supported by fact.