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For the Good People of Sutherland Springs

For the Good People of Sutherland Springs

Yvonne Ridley

It seems to be widely accepted now that the biggest civilian threat posed to Americans is ... erm, Americans - angry white guys to be precise.

I can't begin to understand exactly how the good people of Sutherland Springs will come to terms with the mass shooting which must have blighted the lives of all who live in the tiny community. With a population of around 600, it's not an exaggeration to say almost every home there must have been affected by Sunday's shooting at First Baptist Church.

At least 26 townsfolk (including an unborn baby) were wiped out by Devin Patrick Kelley in a matter of minutes with more than 20 others being injured in the massacre and countless more being traumatised by what they witnessed inside their church. 

However I couldn't help but notice how the shocking crime was handled in a much different way by your president Donald Trump when it emerged the killer was called Kelley and not Khan.

For instance Trump did not call for immediate policy changes or tighter immigration controls when it became obvious this was not the work of a Muhammad, Bilal or Fatima and the shooter was identified as Devin Patrick Kelley. He also had no apparent overseas ties to foreign terrorist groups and didn't shout: "Allahu Akbar."

Instead Trump condemned the American-born shooter explaining his crime away as a mental health issue. He then, without demanding government action, promised the problem of mental health would be addressed "at the highest level." In other words, weasel words.

There was no way Trump could make any political gain out of this and he certainly couldn't use it to ramp up his hateful rhetoric against Muslims home and abroad. While brothers and sisters in the US must naturally be relieved that the shooter wasn't a Muslim, I know your concerns and sympathies still lie with the people of the tiny Texan community.

The small church is the rock of Sutherland Springs and when the congregation isn't in church I'm told they're out helping to feed the needy and cleaning up the neighbourhood after storms.

Quite how they'll come to terms with this awful event remains to be seen but it might help if we all come together and show them the kind of love and respect which are the hallmarks of Islam. I notice that the church, for instance, has a Facebook page and it might be worth sending an electronic message there. The address is First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas.

There's also a website: and it might be worth sending a message there too. While we can expect nothing but bile and rhetoric coming out of The White House these days at least we can try and show our Christian brothers and sisters some empathy and understanding in their hour of need.

 * If you want to book Yvonne Ridley for an event please contact

 -Sister Yvonne Ridley is an author and journalist living in the UK. Her latest books is called TORTURE: Does it work? Interrogation issues and effectiveness in the Global War on Terror. You can order a copy here: 

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