The White House has released a list of 78 attacks which it described as “executed or inspired by” Islamic State to support a claim by President Donald Trump that the media is under-reporting terrorist atrocities.
But Rosie Ayliffe, the mother of Briton Mia Ayliffe-Chung who was stabbed to death in a hostel in Australia, has criticised the inclusion of the 20-year-old’s killing by Smail Ayad as a “terror attack”.
Fellow backpacker Tom Jackson was fatally injured as he tried to save Mia.
Rosie wrote an open letter to the president to make clear her frustration:
“The possibility of Mia and Tom’s deaths being consequent to an Islamic terror attack was discounted in the early stages of the police investigation through international collaboration on the parts of Queensland police department and the French anti-terrorist force.
“I have spoken to friends of Mia’s and other backpackers who worked for long days in the fields with Ayad, and none of them ever saw him put down a prayer mat. Salat or prayer is the second of five pillars of Islam, and calls for five daily rituals of ablution, prayer and prostration. An Islamic fundamentalist by definition must respect the five pillars of Islam. It would be very hard to imagine someone managing to perform this ritual five times a day in the close confines of Home Hill Hostel without witnesses.
“One of the reasons I took to blogging in the Independent newspaper was to discount this myth of a connection between my daughter’s death and Islamic fundamentalism. Any fool can shout Allahu Akbar as they commit a crime. I have lived and worked in the Islamic world for a number of years, and wrote ‘the Rough Guide to Turkey’. Some of the research was carried out with Mia as a baby.
“Mia travelled In Turkey and Morocco too, albeit too briefly. We encountered nothing but respect and hospitality from people who are committed to courtesy and honouring their fellow human beings. This vilification of whole nation states and their people based on religion is a terrifying reminder of the horror that can ensue when we allow ourselves to be led by ignorant people into darkness and hatred.
“My daughter’s death will not be used to further this insane persecution of innocent people. The circumstances of Mia and Tom’s deaths prove that those with the strength of character to travel the world and learn about other cultures should be cherished as brave, resilient characters who have so much to offer if they are nurtured and given opportunities rather than defeated by adverse circumstances.
“Treating immigrants as disposable commodities and disregarding their safety causes deaths throughout our so-called civilised world, and my daughter was not just a victim of a lone wolf attacker with a possible predisposition for schizophrenia but of this disregard.”
French national Ayad, 29, has been charged with the murders of Mia and Tom.