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news 18 Jun 16

Slain UK MP Took Close Interest in Bosnia

British MP Jo Cox, killed by a far-right fanatic, gave her first child a Bosniak name and had ties to Srebrenica.

Marcus Tanner
BIRN
London
The library in Birstall where Cox had been due to hold a constituency surgery at the time of the attack. Photo: Wikipedia/geograph.org.uk.

Murdered British MP Jo Cox took a close interest in Bosnia and named her first child after a Bosniak genocide victim she met at Srebrenica.

The rising star in the opposition Labour Party was stabbed and shot dead on Thursday by an unemployed 52-year-old local with far-right views and mental health issues outside a library in her Batley constituency in the north of England.

Scottish-born Thomas Mair, described by neighbours as a polite loner, shouted “Put Britain First!” before plunging a knife into mother-of-two Cox, 41, whose fervently internationalist speeches championing Syrian refugees may have tipped the psychologically troubled Mair over the edge.

At his first court hearing, Mair refused to give his real name, insisting that his true name was “Death to traitors”.

Cox, who lived on a houseboat moored in the River Thames in London, took a passionate interest in the Balkans, Sudan and Syria, visiting Srebrenica and running a camp for orphans from the eastern Bosnian town, where Bosnian Serbs massacred about 8,000 Bosniak Muslims in 1995.

As well as giving her first-born child a Bosniak name, Lejla, she referred regularly to past tragic events in Bosnia – and Kosovo - in parliamentary speeches urging Britain’s Conservative government to intervene more forcefully in the Syrian civil war.

Unlike the new far-left leadership of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, which opposes Western intervention as colonialistic, Cox remained committed to the idea that powerful Western nations have a duty to take military action in order to prevent atrocities and break sieges.

A strong supporter of the “Remain” side in Britain’s in-out EU referendum on June 23, her death is a blow to the “Exit” camp, which up until Thursday had been gaining steadily on the “Remain” team in the polls and increasingly looked likely to win the vote.

However, all sides in the referendum campaign have now been forced to suspend activities in deference to the MP’s death – which can only come as a relief to the battered and demoralized “Remain” camp.

The fact that Cox’s assassin was a far-right native Briton has also allowed politicians on the left and centre to forcefully remind the UK public that not all terrorist acts are the work of immigrants and Muslims.

Cox’s death has come as a huge shock to the public in Britain, where very few politicians have ever been assassinated.

Almost all such victims were killed by Irish nationalist militants, seeking the reunification of Ireland and an end to British rule over Ireland’s six northern counties.

The last death of British MP at the hands of an assassin was in 1990, when Irish Republican militants killed a Conservative MP, Ian Gow. A radicalised Muslim stabbed a Labour MP, Stephen Timms, in 2010, but he survived.

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