In the early afternoon of Thursday 16th June 2016, after leaving a meeting with her local constituents, the 41-year old British Labour politician Helen Joanne Cox, a married mother of two young children, was chased down the streets of Birstall, England by a man intent on killing her, a killer who was patiently lying in wait. The man subsequently stabbed her, then shot her, and left her to bleed to death in a car park behind the local library.


So shocking was this murder that six days later, marking what would have been her 42nd birthday, tributes took place in London (where Malala Yousafzai spoke), Beirut, Brussels, Melbourne, Nairobi, New York, Washington, Aleppo, and cities across Europe.

Another reason for shock and dismay was that this murder came 4 days after the Orlando shooting in which a Muslim, who pledged allegiance to ISIS, gunned down 49 people in a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Naturally the worry was that this murder was also committed by a Muslim.

My wife was watching TV when the news first broke. Early on practically every news channel was reminding viewers that this may be a terrorist attack, that this may indeed be a terrorist related incident, that terrorism is something we cannot rule out at this particular moment, and so forth, a mantra repeated over and over. The repetition, however, stopped abruptly when it was revealed a few hours later that the person who committed the horrific murder was not a brown skinned foreign Muslim, as the repetitive mantra of ‘terrorism’ would suggest. Instead we found out the killer was a white Christian British man named Tommy Mair.

Mair was described by neighbours as a “loner”, he had a history of mental illness, and he allegedly had links to far right groups (including American neo-Nazis). Eyewitness Clarke Rothwell heard him shout “Put Britain first” twice as he shot and stabbed Cox. Mair is also believed to have blamed Cox for concentrating too much on European and Syrian-related issues, at a time when local mental health services were also being cut back. A leaflet distributed around West Yorkshire, allegedly from the British National Party, went one step further by saying Cox was murdered because she was “helping Muslims.” Jo Cox was also a supporter of the Palestinian cause, being a member of Labour Friends of Palestine.

Jo Palestine

Jo Cox, fifth from left, with other MPs who joined Labour Friends of Palestine in 2015.

Once again I found it depressingly interesting that as soon as the news found out the killer was a non-Muslim, terrorism was most definitely ruled out, never to be mentioned again, and the new hymn being sung was the standard of Mair being a ‘loner’ with ‘mental health issues’. Incidentally, the 52 year old killer was passed mentally fit by the police for interview on 16th June 2016. Furthermore, when he appeared in court charged with murder he gave his name as “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain”.

Lone Wolves

Is chasing an innocent politician, a human rights campaigner, down the streets of her local constituency, then stabbing and shooting her in broad daylight whilst shouting far right slogans not terrorising enough? It depends on your skin colour and religious bent, I guess. If the killer had been a Muslim, with or without genuine mental health issues, would the terrorism stance have been dropped so easily by the news networks? I somehow doubt it very much. This double standard in media reporting is something I have mentioned previously in relation to Orlando.

Jo Cox is someone I never knew but the more I learn about her the more I wish I had been lucky enough to have known her. May she rest in peace, and may God bring patience and understanding to her family.

Below are further points on the murder of Jo Cox.

The double standards in media reporting were noticed by this Englishman…

James O’Brien comments on the ‘hatred’ in British politics that may have led to Jo Cox’s murder…

Adam Hills reminds us that ‘we are better than this’…

We are better than this. We are all better than this. This is one of us and this is a reminder that anyone can snap. Anyone can commit horrific effects in the name of their own ideology but no ideology is worth taking a life for. No ideology. Whether it’s the fight of your sovereignty, the basis of your religion, the colour of your skin. No ideology is worth taking a life for and just because one person takes an extreme action in the name of their beliefs, that doesn’t necessarily mean that their beliefs are inherently wrong. Britain First on their Facebook page said yesterday even if he is a Britain First supporter you can’t tarnish the whole group with the actions of a few, to which someone replied well you could say the same about Muslims. And that’s true to. This shouldn’t reflect on the Britain First movement any more than a lone gunman claiming to represent Allah reflects upon Islam…Let’s remember the words of Jo Cox in her maiden speech to Parliament which says everything we need to know: “We are far more United and have far more in common than that which divides us.” – Adam Hills, from Channel 4’s The Last Leg, June 2016

She spoke her last words to her Muslim friend…

Fazila 1

Ironically the final moments of Jo Cox were spent in the arms of her Muslim assistant, Fazila Aswat, who tried to comfort her friend and colleague. Fazila ran to the Labour MP’s side and lashed out at the white non-Muslim attacker with her handbag before he forced her back. When Fazila begged her friend “Jo, get up”, Jo replied with her final words “No, my pain is too much, Fazila. I can’t make it”. Fazila’s father later confirmed that these were the last words of Jo Cox.

Fazila 2

Fazila and Jo, along with 3 year old Maliha Aswat, pictured at a fund raising event in Dec 2014

Not only did she stand up for Palestinians, she also stood up for Syrians…

Not only was Jo Cox a member of the Parliamentary group Labour Friends of Palestine, but she also did a tremendous amount to help Syrians, which is summed up in the brilliant article 8 Reasons Why Syrians Will Never Forget Jo Cox.

Jo Aleppo

Anhvinh Doanvo compares apples to apples by comparing ISIS to Britain First…

If Mair was even remotely inspired by Britain First to murder Cox, shouldn’t today’s logic conflate Mair’s act of terrorism with Britain First?…the media has consistently conflated attackers in Orlando, San Bernardino, and Garland with ISIS because of their pledges to the group. The public has reacted accordingly, demanding stronger military responses against ISIS. However, none of these attackers were provided material aid or supervision by ISIS—they did not even maintain any direct links to the organization…Jo Cox’s assassination demonstrates the illogic of our conflation between lone wolves and larger, potentially violent, national groups. Although ISIS is a heinous organization threatening Western interests in Syria and Iraq, it is dangerous to conflate the actions of lone wolves pledging to ISIS with ISIS just as it is absurd to perceive Mair’s actions as a threat coming from Britain First. The inspiration that both provided is alarming, but absent any concrete association between the wolves and their pack, drastic measures like the banning of Britain First as a terrorist organization or an expanded war against ISIS seem less than palatable. – Anhvinh Doanvo, from an article entitled We Should Treat Jo Cox’s Murderer and The Orlando Shooter As Lone Wolves

Laurie Penny links the murder of Cox to Brexit…

Nigel Farage, the rich, racist cartoon demagogue, boasts that this victory was won “without a single shot being fired”. Tell that to the grieving family of Jo Cox, the campaigning Labour MP gunned down last week. Farage promised that unless something was done to halt immigration, “violence will be the next step”. It looks like we’ve got a two-for-one deal on that one…This Britain is not my Britain. I want my country back. I want my scrappy, tolerant, forward-thinking, creative country, the country of David Bowie, not Paul Daniels; the country of Sadiq Khan, not Boris Johnson; the country of J K Rowling, not Enid Blyton; the country not of Nigel Farage, but Jo Cox. – Laurie Penny

After her death, her husband made a truly poignant statement…

Today is the beginning of a new chapter in our lives. More difficult, more painful, less joyful, less full of love. I and Jo’s friends and family are going to work every moment of our lives to love and nurture our kids and to fight against the hate that killed Jo. Jo believed in a better world and she fought for it every day of her life with an energy, and a zest for life that would exhaust most people. She would have wanted two things above all else to happen now, one that our precious children are bathed in love and two, that we all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her. Hate doesn’t have a creed, race or religion, it is poisonous. Jo would have no regrets about her life, she lived every day of it to the full. – statement from Brendan Cox, husband of Jo Cox

Brendan Cox Love

The last word goes to Jo Cox herself…

It is a joy to represent such a diverse community. Batley and Spen is a gathering of typically independent, no-nonsense and proud Yorkshire towns and villages. Our communities have been deeply enhanced by immigration, be it of Irish Catholics across the constituency or of Muslims from Gujarat in India or from Pakistan, principally from Kashmir. While we celebrate our diversity, what surprises me time and time again as I travel around the constituency is that we are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us…I am Batley and Spen born and bred, and I could not be prouder of that. I am proud that I was made in Yorkshire and I am proud of the things we make in Yorkshire. Britain should be proud of that, too. I look forward to representing the great people of Batley and Spen here over the next five years. – Jo Cox delivers her maiden speech to Parliament on 3rd June 2015


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