Muslim woman, crying muslim woman, upset woman, westminster bridge, terror attack

First widely shared snapshot

The ‘terror’ attack that shook London could have been a time for unity, calm and self-reflection. However, many people used it to push their own agendas. This one picture especially seemed to take prominence over all other pictures.

The commentary around this picture was not about those that had lost their lives that fateful day. It was not about the many people that were injured. It was not even about the first responders that helped to save lives and avert further life loss. It was a picture of a person in close proximity to the attack and to an injured person. However, people took that basic description and placed it into their own narrative.

People like Paul Joseph Watson, from InfoWars, used this image to pander to the ignorance, Islamaphobia and racism his followers are known for.  However, this is the nature of pictures and of social media ‘citizen journalism’.

A picture or video can be propagated with a leading headline and people will be coerced to discuss, analyze and judge it based on their maximum preconceived prejudices despite minimal information. ‘Leading’ headlines plant a seed into a person’s mind on how they should interpret an image or a headline. Few people have followers or friends that do not share their own preconceived view of the world. Therefore, a particular narrative can spread like wildfire when someone we know, respect, follow or in some cases worship makes a statement that we do not bother to fact check. We too often take our ‘like’ of someone’s personality, opinions and beliefs as the reason why we can wholeheartedly trust everything they say, whilst creating our unwillingness to challenge their troubling statements.

muslim woman

Second snapshot

It is this sheep like mentality that breeds all types of extremists. We must remember there are those who are extremely violent, extremely ignorant and a combination of the two. A short history lesson will tell us that their existence has not been only birthed from one religion, race, nationality or gender. Therefore, we must be able to look in the mirror and see our own prejudices, ignorance and whomever we give too much ‘trust’ too.

Tragedies are the most prominent time for people to push their agenda. This is because we have this selective outrage that targets the people we already hold negative opinions of. On the other hand, it allows us to ignore the negative behavior of people who do not fit our narrative of who are ‘evil’ in the world. For instance, this picture does not give enough information to pass judgment on hers or anyone’s reaction. We are all individuals and handle tragedy in our own individual way. But the people choose to judge this woman, had very little to say about a white non-Muslim looking man in exactly the same scenario.

Our hypocritical analysis of people, tragedies and death are what is dividing us more and more. As we look at any image we must try to place ourselves in the shoes of the people we are judging. We should not act like we are some altruistic saints whom always go out of their way to help others.

Here the woman in question explains what really happened:

Here are the words of the photographer who took the picture:

Speaking to the Guardian Jamie Lorriman said: “She’s in the middle of an unfolding horrific scene… I think her expression to me says that she’s horrified by what she’s seen and she just needs to get out of the situation.

“We were all being told to clear the bridge at various stages, so it’s not unreasonable to think she’d been told to leave the bridge at some point just like everybody else.”

He added that many other people had come to the woman’s defence: “People going, ‘you weren’t there, you didn’t see it, you’ve no idea what that woman’s thinking, so how can you possibly assume that she’s just casually on her phone?’

“It’s good to see that that seems to be the overwhelming response to the messages that are being put out there by certain people.”

When I saw this image, I saw a person who looked distraught and in shock. No more no less. However, my main concern was for the people in critical conditions. Far too often, we make a story where there is no story. We spend time trying to create new news, rather than quality news. It really is a shame that some people’s ignorance made them think it was ok to judge this woman.

What was your thought when you saw this image?


Antoine Allen

Tweet us at @AntoineSpeakson

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