It probably hasn't passed you by, but today is election day! Have you cast your vote yet? Which one of the 40,000 polling stations did you visit? Was it in in a school, launderette or someone's kitchen? Did you put a tick, cross, or smiley face in the box? Before being caught up in the election frenzy of which results will be declared first, graphics, graphs and swingometers, let's stop and reflect back on the last few days that have run up to this election.
Before the memorial concert was held for victims from the Manchester atrocity, London was attacked leaving eight dead and dozens injured. As more becomes known about the events more questions are being asked. Who knew what and why was it not acted upon? Party political leaders are blaming each other for reducing police numbers now that campaigning has resumed. Debate about security and Islam have dominated the days before today's election. The phrase, "Enough is enough" has been seen and heard this week.
One violent response seen in the media was to wave around a machete, threaten to blow up mosques and kill Muslims. In the video that was posted the man also appeared to have a hand grenade attached to his shirt. Since uploading the video onto the internet he has claimed it was a joke, his drink was spiked and has now issued an apology. Another response has been to ignore the memory of those who died in the attack by ignoring the minute's silence held at a world cup qualifier.
Another response seen in the media has been to challenge the Muslim response to terror attacks. Not just to condemn the terrorism but the ideology behind it.
Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has stated there is a lack of religious literacy by some who are dealing with terrorist threats. He continued by saying:
At a vigil at Bradford Cathedral Bishop Toby Howarth stated that we don't choose how we feel but we can choose how we respond. At least one person chose to reach out to the Muslim community in London by chalking "London loves you," on the pavement outside a mosque.
Muslim taxi drivers have been praised for their role in helping victims immediately after the attack. Muslim communities have united in disgust against the attacks, have made signs to show their support and have left flowers at the scene. One hundred and thirty imams have refused to say funeral prayers for the perpetrators of the attack and called upon others to follow their example.
Another article suggests the number of imams refusing to perform the traditional funeral prayers is much higher at around 500. Traditional funeral prayers called janaza are often open for anyone to join. The more people who attend the more beneficial it is to the deceased according to the Islamic scholar and psychiatrist Dr Asim Yusuf. Anti extremist campaigner Ahmed Patel thinks that denying funeral prayers sends out out a very strong message to terrorists and could stop people from carrying out attacks.
Another response that has appeared in the media has been written by an accident and emergency consultant who works at The Royal London Hospital. In a post that has been shared over 4000 times in recent days he states:
In the light of all that has happened this week- vote wisely. If you are yet to decide on where to place your X, maybe consulting this manifesto comparison chart published by The Muslim Council of Britain will help.
However we vote, let's put greater faith in the Jesus who didn't travel on a campaign bus, publish a political manifesto or get elected. Let's continue to pray for our nation, friends and colleagues, and share Jesus with those we encounter.