Muslims tried to stop the bombing in Manchester. As usual.

After Monday's deadly bombing in Manchester, England, several commentators began invoking a familiar villain: ordinary Muslims who didn't speak out soon enough.

Among the first to cast blame was British journalist Piers Morgan, who tweeted his criticism a few days after the attack:

It's an unfortunately familiar refrain after a deadly terror incident.

Where were the Muslims? Why did they ignore the warning signs? If they only spoke out more, these attacks could be prevented, the thinking goes.


With the proliferation of terrorist attacks in the U.S. and U.K., it might seem like common sense to wonder. But putting the responsibility of preventing terrorist attacks on Muslims only reinforces the idea that all Muslims are complicit in acts of terror.

Not only is that divisive, it's been proven false — in case after case after case.

Photo by Ben Stansall/Getty Images.

Authorities were warned about Manchester bomber Salman Abedi — five times. And they refused (or were unable) to act.

That's according to a startling report in The Telegraph, which noted that several Muslim religious leaders, friends of Abedi, and fellow Muslims from his community came forward to tell law enforcement officials about the attacker's turn toward extremism.

"The missed opportunities to catch Abedi were beginning to mount up last night. The Telegraph has spoken to a community leader who said that Abedi was reported two years ago 'because he thought he was involved in extremism and terrorism'.

Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, said: "People in the community expressed concerns about the way this man was behaving and reported it in the right way using the right channels.

'They did not hear anything since.'"



The paper reports that in addition to the community leader, two of Abedi's friends reported him to a counterterrorism hotline twice — once in 2012 and once last year.

Contrary to popular belief, Muslims help law enforcement root out extremists all the time.

Mohammad Malik, an acquaintance of Omar Mateen, reported the Pulse nightclub shooter to the FBI two years before the attack after discovering he had been imbibing al-Qaeda propaganda videos.

In August 2015, Virginia resident Amani Ibrahim warned authorities about her son Ali, who was raising money for ISIS online.

Muslims are on the front lines of fighting extremism — and they are also its primary victims.

A London mosque holds a memorial service for bombing victims. Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

Law enforcement agencies from the FBI to the Los Angeles Police Department have reported deep and frequent cooperation with Muslim communities in terror investigations.

"I personally have been called by community members about several things, very significant things,” LAPD deputy chief Michael Downing told Reuters in 2015. "What we say to communities is that we don’t want you to profile humans, we want you to profile behavior."

As in Orlando, as in Virginia, and as in countless cases where attacks were successfully prevented, Muslims tried valiantly to stop another senseless outburst of violence.

In Manchester, it simply wasn't enough.  

All over the world, Muslims are offering their support, their ideas, and most critically, their help in fighting terror.

Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images.

We need to stop ignoring them, stop accusing them, and listen to what they have to say.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Photo by Tod Perry

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