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Response To London Subway Knife Attacker: 'You Ain't No Muslim, Bruv!'

When a man wielding a knife stabbed three people at an east London subway stop on Saturday evening and shouted, "This is for Syria," it was a bystander's blunt reaction, captured on video, that grabbed most of the attention afterward.

As police straddled and handcuffed the attacker, whom they'd Tasered at the Leytonstone tube station, the onlooker yelled, "You ain't no Muslim, bruv!" using slang akin to "bro."

"You're no Muslim. You ain't no Muslim," he repeated.

The man who made the statement has not yet been identified.

The episode was shared on video and Twitter, and the hashtag #YouAintNoMuslimBruv began trending worldwide. Many praised the remark as a rallying cry summing up β€” in a quintessentially London way β€” the belief that violence and jihadism don't reflect Islamic values.

The suspect, identified as Muhaydin Mire, 29, appeared in court Monday on charges of attempted murder. Police are treating the case as a terrorist incident.

The attack came just days after Britain's Parliament approved airstrikes on Syria; the first began last Thursday.

Prime Minister David Cameron called the knife attack "hideous" and praised the onlooker's words. Herepeated them at a news conference on Monday:

"Some of us have dedicated speeches and media appearances and soundbites and everything on this subject, but 'You ain't no Muslim, bruv' said it all much better than I ever could," Cameron said. "Thank you, that will be applauded around the country."

On a London street on Monday, Don Isuru, a young man seeking donations to provide guide dogs for the blind, told NPR's Peter Kenyon:

"Anyone to do with the terrorism, he has no religion. He's no Muslim, he's no Christian, he's no Buddhist, he's no Hindu. I have a lot of Muslim friends; none of them have a gun. None of them even harm anyone. They're probably better than me, and I'm a Buddhist."

Isuru is originally from Sri Lanka, a country that has endured more than its share of terrorist attacks.

"Us non-Muslims, we need to be smart as well," he said. "We can't judge people as terrorists, Muslim people as terrorists. That's only going to make things worse."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Hannah Bloch is lead digital editor on NPR's international desk, overseeing the work of NPR correspondents and freelance journalists around the world.