The Outer Circle

By Ian Ridley

Set in the week following the London Olympics, this novel imagines an attack on London Central Mosque and follows five people caught up in its aftermath

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Life, art...

THE DUST has settled on last week’s terror attack in London but for many, specifically those directly involved, the wounds will forever leave scars, mentally and emotionally.

            In the immediate aftermath, as the details began to emerge along with the timeline of the attack, I couldn’t help but be enveloped by the whole narrative. After all, I had imagined just such a scenario for my novel, The Outer Circle.

            Five dead in an attack on a landmark in the capital… Who did this and why? Who were his associates, if any? What do we know of the victims and those caught up in it? How might the police and the media react? Would there be reprisals?

            Those very questions were the ones I asked myself when I envisaged such an atrocity for The Outer Circle, then worked through to the answers. I had hoped that while the result would be plausible, it would never be topical. My journalistic instincts told me, however, that the likelihood, sadly, was always that it would be.

            The fear last week (and indeed in my fiction) was that religious contempt would prevail and this would be the start of something yet more terrifying, something to divide the nation further. This real event, after all, came at a time when the obsessional preoccupation is of Brexit, with concern of, and for, generations of immigrants who belong here.

            As balm to those with jaded news palates, though, the stories that began to emerge were of courage and acts of kindness and professionalism. Where there can be despair sometimes at the insularity and small-mindedness of what is assailing us in daily life, there appeared to be the uplifting semblances of a return to tolerance and a reluctance to rush to judgement. In short, the sort of traits that once appeared to characterise the British, among whom was a Muslim who began a fund for the victims and their familes. 

            We were told of the perpetrator’s links with IS, his potential radicalisation having converted – or reverted as Muslims perceive it – to Islam. Most people of balance, though, did not judge a whole religion by the action of a lone wolf whose interpretation of it is, in my own experience, clearly at odds with its true teachings.

             That much I discovered in researching The Outer Circle, including a day spent on a course outlining the cornerstones of Islam: the Qur’an and the Hadith, the six articles of faith and the five pillars of the religion. The five daily prayer times.

              Encouragingly, we largely seemed to have in perspective the act and the man who committed his wickedness - hopefully just as much as we seem willing to accept that white supremacists committing racist acts of violence in North America (and potentially in Europe, too) do not represent Christianity.

             That mercy, in these fractured modern times, we can at least be grateful for.







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