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London Subway Stabbing Sparks Support For Muslim Community

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Police in London are treating a knife attack that happened over the weekend as an act of terror. The attack in a London subway station left one man seriously wounded. It also resulted in a lot of activity on social media after a bystander shouted at the suspect as he was being taken away by police. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports on how the hashtag #YouAintNoMuslimBruv has taken off on twitter.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: The 29-year-old suspected attacker who reportedly spoke about Syria before stabbing three people appeared briefly in court Monday as police searched his apartment. The attack at the Leytonstone underground station was captured on video that was posted online.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Drop it, you fool.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Drop it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Oh, hey.

KENYON: The video shows a pool of blood on the floor and police using Tasers to subdue the attacker. A middle-aged man was stabbed and said to be in serious condition. Two other bystanders suffered minor wounds. But it was what happened next that caught people's attention. As police moved in and detained the knifer, a voice calls out, in a clear London accent...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: You're no Muslim, Bruv. You ain't no Muslim.

KENYON: In almost no time, those words were trending on social media. The hashtag #YouAintNoMuslimBruv received a slew of endorsements. A tweet from the account Nashton038 said, horrific event, but proud to hear the defiant, you ain't no Muslim, Bruv. Helen Oliver tweeted, it's not the words of that damaged person with the knife which bear repeating; it's the words of the bystander. Prime Minister David Cameron was among those who called the comment brilliant.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DAVID CAMERON: Some of us have dedicated speeches and media appearances and soundbites and everything to this subject, but #YouAintNoMuslimBruv said it all much better than I ever could. And thank you because that'll be applauded around the country.

KENYON: On the streets of London, as opposed to online, fewer people were familiar with the hashtag. But a young man seeking donations to provide seeing-eye dogs for the blind says he saw the video of the aftermath of the stabbing. Don Isuru says when he heard the bystander call out to the attacker, you ain't no Muslim, he thought, yeah, that's exactly right.

DON ISURU: Anyone to do with a terrorism - he has no religion. He's not a Muslim. He's not Christian. He's not Buddhist. He's not Hindu. I have a lot of Muslim friends, and none of them have a gun. None of them even harm anyone. They're probably better than me, and I'm a Buddhist.

KENYON: Isuru is from Sri Lanka, a country that has seen more than its share of suicide bombs and other terrorist attacks. He says, you ain't no Muslim is the kind of unifying response that's needed because terrorists need to divide people by race or religion to succeed.

ISURU: As non-Muslims, we need to be smart as well. We can't judge people as terrorists - Muslim people as terrorists. That's only going to make things worse.

KENYON: The underground attacker has another court appearance Friday. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.