Britain divided? 'This has changed the lives of us all'

Did the bombs kill off all hope of the nation living in racial harmony? London stood united a month ago, but is that now just a heart-warming memory? Are hatred and violence on the increase? As police revealed a sixfold rise in race crime and Tories declared the death of multiculturalism, we asked Londoners: how is life for you?
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The Independent Online

Naba Madani, 23, student of property and business

I've always been able to live with non-Muslims, I was brought up here. When I was walking past an English person in Marylebone he said, 'scum'. Also my friend was driving and someone threw a bottle of beer at her car. The side mirror broke. Before the attacks I could go out at night, but now I'm wary.

Ajmal Masroor, 33, preaches at London mosques

The community cohesion we all aspire to is in great jeopardy at the moment. I went to a rural area in the home counties and as soon as my wife and I came out of the car a group of boys shouted at the top of their voices: 'The terrorists have landed.' I challenged them and they were very embarrassed.

Sadique Al Hasani, 17, student

Everyone understands that the bombers are not doing it for the cause of Islam. They're just mad people. But when my mother's friend went outside of London, someone in a motorway station didn't want to serve her. She was wearing hijab.

Kazim Ali Mechanic, 72, shop owner

Things have changed. People in the community are disheartened. There's a feeling that some of them might go back [to their country of origin]. The Government won't push them, but maybe they're thinking that they'll go back themselves.

Hari Kunzru, author

I was in the US for 9/11 and the atmosphere on the Tube and the buses is reminiscent of the atmosphere at airports then. I feel like I am getting funny looks, and the worst of it is I am giving them to other people.It isworrying to see the police so hyped up. If you're young, male and dark-skinned, the dead Brazilian is never far from your mind as you travel.

Sir Bill Morris, former general secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union

We should not be seeking to make the argument around one group of people. My concern is that we are turning this into a religious issue rather than seeing them as barbaric criminals. We cannot stigmatise a whole community. Where does it end?

Anita Anand, presenter, BBC Radio Five Live

A friend was evacuated from Warren Street after the attack. Some woman pointed at his brown skin, and said 'we're getting rid of this'. When people start turning on each other it is awful. That said, I love this city and I have witnessed the pulling together. People would never talk to each other on the Tube before but now they are.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of the human rights group Liberty

The British Transport Police said they were not going to waste their time with 'little old white ladies'. If this is racial profiling it could be the start of two queues at the Tube. That is a kind of apartheid that will play into the hands of extremists. Terrorism is about scaring, provoking and dividing.

Brian Etheridge, 35, builder

I saw a man with a guitar stopped by police who asked him his name and searched his guitar. Afterwards he was complaining that it was because of the colour of his skin. The people that have carried out these attacks have a similar physical profile. It is just something [those who are stopped] have got to put up with during this time.

Edward Geary, 50, director for construction company

The issues London is facing are down to a particular sector of Muslims, not to the whole religion. As a Catholic, I can't condemn a whole religion. You can't blame every Irishman for the mess the IRA made.

Peter Scully, 63, taxi driver

I am more cautious and may think twice about the people I pick up. The very fact that there have been bombs makes you more aware of a person's demeanour. Four weeks ago you wouldn't think twice about people but now things have changed slightly. I have noticed some verbal abuse towards Asian people, in particular a Muslim girl.

Paul Jancso, 68, retired

Europe has been Christianity-based for many, many years and I don't think that multiculturalism will ever work in any European country. People who immigrate into this county have to be willing to give something up in order to integrate into society.

Nordia Brown, 38, buyer for a construction company

I have not changed the way I think about others but I notice that others have. The other day I walked away from Embankment and people were staring at a bunch of guys who were French, I think. Then the police checked them. Suddenly people are talking about 'foreigners', whereas first they said 'Londoners'.

Tony Nunn, 40, charity fundraiser

This has changed the lives of us all, and our attitudes. You do look at Asians with beards and rucksacks more. I think everyone is more aware of the people around them. I wouldn't move seats to avoid someone though. I have no choice but to use the Tube, but if I did then I might consider it.