Sir: When 9/11 happened I was living in Boston. I was woken up on that bright morning by a phone call from my parents in London asking "Are you all right? Please tell us you are not in New York!" Several minutes later, I switched on the TV just in time to see the second tower turn into a tornado of smoke and ash.
The memory of that day came back to me this morning. All of us Londoners suspected that a terrorist attack was going to take place sooner or later in our city but somehow having won the Olympic bid yesterday, this pessimism was momentary pushed aside. This morning we woke up feeling more elated than usual.
As an Iraqi-Brit living in the US during 9/11 and its aftermath, I found the poisoned atmosphere too much to bear. Although I was living in one of the most liberal cities in the US and working at the heart of its intellectual arsenal, Harvard University, I was not sheltered from the hostility that ensued towards Arabs and Muslims. By most accounts, Boston has recovered its liberal spirit, but I was not there to see this transformation.
The attack on London is unforgivable. London is not just a multicultural city; it is the multicultural city par excellence. When I returned from Boston and resumed working at Imperial College, I was once again fortunate to have friends and colleagues from all over the world for whom the matter of one's ethnicity and religion was of secondary importance. One did not need to explain the obvious point: al-Qa'ida is not representative of all Muslims and Arabs.
When I saw the reports about the attacks this morning, I couldn't help but think, "Here we go again." What will emerge in the aftermath of this? Another law to curtail civil liberties, another war? When will it end? I doubt however that I will see people driving trucks with the slogan "Death to all Muslims" painted on the side as I did in Boston. I also doubt that anyone one will make a stupid remark to me such as "Baghdad is going to get a whole lot hotter when our boys are done with it," as some idiot did in one of Harvard Square's taverns.
Baghdad is suffering on a daily basis terrorist attacks like the one we experienced today in London. The most unexpected phone call I received was from a relative in Baghdad, wondering whether my family and I were unharmed. Many times I have made similar phone calls to relatives in Iraq over the last two years but it never occurred to me that the concern would one day flow in the opposite direction.
Washington, New York, Madrid, Baghdad and now London are all members of an exclusive club that they never asked to join. I hope this bond will unite us and keep us focused not only on defeating our common enemy and everything he stands for but also on doing so without losing our freedom, our sanity and our vision, naïve though it may be, of a better world.
HASSAN ABDULRAZZAK PHD
DIVISION OF BIOMEDICAL SCIENCES IMPERIAL COLLEGE LONDON
Inevitable retribution for the folly in Iraq
Sir: Assuming the murderous blasts in London were the work of al-Qa'ida or one of its splinter groups, there can be little doubt that they have occurred in response to our government's alliance with United States foreign policy. The British public, who were led into the war on Iraq under false pretenses are now facing the retribution that seemed inevitable to all but the Prime Minister.
Blair's statement that the world was a safer place as a result of the removal of Saddam Hussein has now been exposed for the folly it was in the most terrible fashion. Blair and Bush have made the world a far more dangerous place, and it is once more innocent members of the public who are paying the full price.
No doubt the death of innocents today will be utilised to push through ID cards and further impositions on our liberty, especially upon those people of colour in the UK, but the solution to these attacks is retrospective and therefore impossible to enforce. We should never have gone to war in the first place, and Britain has now suffered, and is likely to face more attacks, as a result of the Prime Minister's mendacious warmongering.
Sir: This should be a wake-up call to the people of Britain. We cannot go around the world administering our own brand of "democracy" and "freedom" through the barrel of a gun without the expectation of some kind of response. Did we not help kill 100,000 innocent Iraqi men, women and children?
Tony Blair said that terrorists will not threaten our values and our way of life. But he has done more to undermine these very tenets himself during his tenure in office by his tacit alliance with the most right-wing neo-conservative US President in history and his complete indifference to the suffering their policies have inflicted on those innocents in the Middle East.
Aside from the obvious human distress, these bombings will have done more to ease the course of illiberal legislation through Parliament than anything else ever could. So stand-by for more CCTV and satellite surveillance, black boxes in your cars, more stop and search, the hounding of ethnic minority communities, and yes, the compulsory issue of ID cards with heaven knows what information on them.
Sir: How many innocents have been murdered in our streets today? Whatever the number, they're just ordinary people going about their ordinary business.
And who is responsible - Islamic terrorists? What a surprise! We have killed thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq, innocent people going about their ordinary business. And then we have re-elected those responsible.
What a surprise that our innocents should be murdered in return for their innocents. Let's stop this murder and put on trial those criminals who are within our jurisdiction. Let's start with the British government.
Sir: The blasts in London would not have happened had our Prime Minister not decided to join George W Bush's ill-advised invasion of Iraq. It is now clear that Mr Blair's actions have made our country a more dangerous place.
We can only hope that he resigns to leave the country and our safety in the hands of a more sensible leader.
Sir: Will it occur to the politicians who went to war in Iraq that they created far more terrorists than they destroyed, and that we are now reaping the consequences?
Another failure of intelligence
Sir: The bomb blasts that took place in London point to another failure of the security and intelligence services. Dodgy intelligence in Iraq has now been followed by not one but several bomb explosions at home.
What is clear is that this was a carefully timed and targeted attack, designed to give maximum publicity, given the G8 and Olympic announcements. No doubt those responsible rightly figured that the G8 at Gleneagles would distract those charged with protecting London.
Instead of a panic reaction quickly pointing fingers of blame, I hope that a careful investigation is carried out, both into who did this and why there was a total failure on the part of those supposedly meant to safeguard us.
Moreover, this should not be used as an excuse by an authoritarian government to clamp down further on our civil liberties. Freedom carries risks and they have to be lived with, under the umbrella of reasonable protection.
Phlegmatic public set an example
Sir: Listening to the BBC World Service, I can only feel admiration for the phlegmatic attitude of my compatriots towards the explosions in central London. This contrasts starkly with the smug attitude of the politicians, with people like Geoff Hoon spouting in Parliament about not letting terrorists gain the upper hand.
If the politicians, so anxious not to lose their privileges, had shown some backbone and voted against Tony Blair's adventure in Iraq, maybe Londoners wouldn't find themselves the target of yet another terrorist attack.
Blair himself, who so heroically announced that we were ready for them, would obviously never be in the firing line when, despite the wishes of the majority, he trotted obediently behind George Bush to attack another sovereign state without any justification whatsoever.
Innocents caught up in power politics
Sir: Your highlighted letter from Paul Dunwell, in particular taking your newspaper to task for not lauding our dear leader as much as he would like ("Olympic victory confirms that Blair's Britain is on a roll", 7 July), appears to have been overtaken by events that have vindicated your policies.
Perhaps we should together remind him that in addition to those tens of thousands already dead and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, should be added those in London today, innocents caught up in the power politics of Bush and Blair, who collectively refused to listen to the public when it mattered most?
We may have won the Olympics but we are losing the war.
Now we must expel disciples of terror
Sir: Is there now a possibility that certain politicians, judges and lawyers will understand the real meaning of the term "human rights"? If they had behaved with as much care and concern for the citizens of this country as the emergency services have we would probably not have seen this carnage. Surely we must, at last, expel from our shores all potential disciples of this kind of terror - irrespective of where they might be sent.
Sir: Ever since 9/11, we have been hamstrung by bleeding-heart liberals, leftists and lawyers bleating about the imagined "rights" of those who support (or refuse to condemn) al-Qa'ida. Terrorists are like wasps - we can exterminate them or we can keep getting stung.
Emergency services show their worth
Sir: On what is clearly a terrible day for Britain and democracy, I cannot applaud strongly enough the professionalism and efficiency of our emergency services in dealing with the bombing attacks in London.
Our public services are often ridiculed or in the spotlight for inefficiencies. Events like today show how essential they are, and the fantastic way they can operate when required. As morbid as practice disaster events might seem, such as those rehearsed in London not too long ago, their worth is amply demonstrated on awful days such as this.
Don't forget the biggest threat
Sir: While heroes in the emergency services help us heal the damage of horrific attack, we should stay alert to the prospect of "mega-deaths" under global warming scenarios, and maintain our resolve to counter climate chaos undistracted by those bombs.
Of the many recent excesses of the Western world, our wholesale fossil fuel abuse is by far the most appalling. We are not only squandering our subterranean treasure trove of compact stored solar energy but releasing mega-tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air, altering our planet's chemistry, shaking its ability to regulate our climate. Thales of Miletus (c 625-545 BC) observed: "We live not, in reality, on the summit of a solid earth, but at the bottom of an ocean of air."
President Bush hopes technology might save us. It may help. But we cannot afford dither and delay. Delay would be a much more deadly outcome of G8 than any bomb.
My favourite city
Sir: I awoke to your horrible news this morning and wish to extend my sympathies to the entire population of my favourite city.
With love and concern.
WEST GROVE, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
Causes of barbarity
Sir: At this time of intense personal grief and national shock it is well to remember that these barbarous attacks are a direct result of the misguided foreign policy of the Western nations, particularly the United States. Until the grievances of the Middle East are dealt with, we may experience further attacks.
DR RUPERT GUDE
A futile 'war'
Sir: If waging "war" on terror stopped terrorism, Israel would be the safest place on earth. It isn't. The only way to stop terrorism is to include terrorists in the political process. That is the lesson from history - from the ANC to the IRA - no matter how inconvenient for those seeking vengeance or easy votes.
Sir: The terrorist attacks on London are of course all Israel's fault and no doubt those in this country who have expressed sympathy for Palestinian suicide bombers would have volunteered to carry them out, had they been asked. Oh no, I forgot: they only sympathise with blowing up Israelis.
The Muslim victims
Sir: Who's going to be hit hardest at the end of these terrorist attacks? The Muslim population, as usual, who are going to be victimised and the subject of anti-immigration blather from the right-wing press and discriminated against when applying for asylum or immigration.
Cut off the publicity
Sir: The reason London has been bombed is that a certain terrorist organisation wants its cause discussed at the G8 conference and generally in the media. I dare you to be the first British newspaper to refuse them the publicity of mentioning their name. You could be saving thousands of lives.
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