The Bereaved: 'If my appeal stops one potential suicide bomber, I will be happy. I will say, yes Lord, take Anthony"

The mother whose agony moved the nation after 7 July hopes her son's death can help to halt further bloodshed.
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The Independent Online

Her son was a typical aspiring young Londoner. The 26-year-old oil executive lived in Hendon and hoped one day to work overseas.

"Anthony danced, wined and gym-ed when the time was right to do that," said his mother, 50, brightening as she remembered him. As is often the case with the recently bereaved, Mrs Fatayi-Williams slipped into the present tense. "He is very loving. He's very caring, very easily touched. He hurts easily even though he's a big strapping person because he goes to the gym.

"He was a gentle man, peace loving and always wanting others to be happy. If, ironically, he gets taken out of this world through terrorist and violent action, which is completely the opposite of what he stood for, then I will try my best to lend my voice and the voice of other grieving mothers who have lost loved ones across the world to terrorist actions and violence at large, to promote peace."

Mrs Fatayi-Williams, an executive with Elf Total Petroleum in Lagos, is forming an international organisation to help to end violence, The Anthony Fatayi-Williams Foundation for Peace and Conflict Resolution. "Those are the values that Anthony stood for," she explained. "We are going to appeal for support from likeminded people who have ideas and want to discuss them. This terror is not something you just blankly rationalise. You've got to go in-depth and ask the question why and get the answers. The major religions don't preach hatred. They preach peace. They have mosques and churches and assemblies where people come together which are venues which we should exploit positively for peace."

Mrs Fatayi-Williams, who has two daughters, believes women have an active role to play. "If more women go to church and all those places, then perhaps the peace rests in the hands of women. When you see scenes [of atrocities], you only see wailing mothers coming to carry either maimed children or dead bodies and their hearts are bleeding like mine is bleeding for my son. I think it's high time that we got ourselves together in some form and started to talk peace."

Anthony's father, Dr Alan Adebayo Fatayi-Williams, 52, a Muslim and one of Nigeria's leading medical practitioners, is also setting up an organisation,Doctors For Peace.

"It will be a not-for-profit organisation based in Lagos, a group for any doctors interested in working with us to promote peace in any way that they can," he said. "We know that doctors are privileged in having special relationships with various types of people such as patients and politicians. We think that this will be a good way of promoting peace. It will be open to doctors anywhere in the world."

Asked about her feelings towards those responsible for her son's death, Mrs Fatayi-Williams, a Catholic, replied: "In Anthony's funeral mass programme I wrote a prayer for them. If I'm going to talk of peace in the world I have got to start by showing the example that I forgive. If people forgave them perhaps there would not be so much hatred. God will judge the ones who have gone.

"I'm hoping that my plea and this foundation will reach those who are alive and considering this kind of thing. If my appeal stops just one potential suicide bomber then I will be happy. Then I will say, yes Lord, take Anthony's death as a sacrificial lamb for peace to reign in the world because we need a turning point."