Britain’s parliament will pay tribute Monday to one of its slain member, David Amess, while the country’s counter-terrorism police are investigating whether the actions of the alleged perpetrators arrested were motivated by Islamic extremism.
Conservative MP Amess, 69, was stabbed to death last Friday as she was meeting with the community at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London. The incident was the second attack on a British MP in just five years.
Police detained a 25-year-old man in connection with the attack. Under the Terrorism Act, police can extend the detention of suspects arrested over the weekend for questioning until next Friday. The man himself has not been charged.
Parliament, which returns to session Monday after a three-week break, will hold a special event on Monday afternoon to pay homage to Amess. MPs from across the political spectrum are expected to attend.
“What really sets him apart is, even though he doesn’t agree with people, he’s open-minded,” deputy prime minister Dominic Raab told BBC radio. “We will miss him and I, personally, will miss him,” he added, describing Amess – who was first elected in 1983 – as having always been “very kind and generous with her time and advice”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson will preside over the honor that is expected to last several hours, before House Speaker Lindsay Hoyle leads a procession of members to a memorial service at a church on the grounds of Westminster Abbey.
The Amess family said late Sunday that their hearts were “absolutely broken” and were “trying to understand why this terrible thing happened”. “Get rid of hatred and work towards togetherness,” they said in a statement issued through the police. “Whatever a person’s race, religion or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand.”
Police have declared the killing a terrorist incident and said they were investigating possible motivations linked to Islamic extremism. The counter-terrorism division of the London Metropolitan Police, which is leading the investigation, said late Saturday it was investigating three addresses in the capital.
British media, citing unnamed official sources, have identified the suspect as Ali Harbi Ali, a British citizen of Somali descent. They reported that his father was a former adviser to the prime minister in Somalia, his uncle was the east African country’s ambassador to China, and his aunt ran a security think tank in the war-torn capital, Mogadishu. [ab/ka]