Nick Clegg speaks out over Woolwich soldier attack at Islington meeting

Stills from video footage of a man after the killing of a soldier in Woolwich. Credit ITV News.

Stills from video footage of a man after the killing of a soldier in Woolwich. Credit ITV News. - Credit: Archant

The deputy prime minister said the men who beheaded a young soldier in the street had betrayed Islam at a meeting in Islington today.

Nick Clegg addressed a group of religious and community leaders at the Hugh Cubitt Peabody Centre, in Collier Street and said they could reject the “corrosive feeling of fear” in the wake of the atrocity.

The whole country was left in disbelief on Wednesday after two men hacked Drummer Lee Rigby to death with knives and meat cleavers in broad daylight in what appears to be a terrorist attack.

After addressing shocked witnesses with a series of political messages, the two suspects were shot by armed police– they remain under guard in separate hospitals.

Mr Clegg said the killers wanted the Government to overreact and communities to be divided.

He said: “The fact that we’re here together – from so many different directions and so many parts of the diversity that is London – it sends out a very simple message of hope over fear, of community over division, and that is immensely important.”

The Lib Dem leader said the religion of Islam was “perverted” by the two men who were shot by police in the wake of the murder.

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He also read a verse from the Koran which states: “If anyone kills a human being, it shall be as though he killed all mankind.”

“What we heard from those two individuals was a total unqualified betrayal of Islam,” said the deputy PM.

“A religion of peace was being distorted, turned upside down and inside out, perverted in the cause of an abhorrent and violent set of intentions.”

He added: “We have a choice to either allow that powerful, corrosive feeling of fear to seep into every second and minute and hour of our lives, or we can make a choice that we’re not going to change our behaviour, we’re not going to disrupt normal life. We’re going to continue our life as before.”