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:
Nobody likes to be criticised, but it doesn't mean my criticism is wrong. Muslim communities must do more to root o… https://t.co/hu2eePPeQK— Piers Morgan (@Piers Morgan) 1495727318
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.
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.
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.
We need to stop ignoring them, stop accusing them, and listen to what they have to say.