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Wednesday 13 July 2005
Letters: Londoners are not 'brave', United against bigots and others
Londoners are not 'brave' - we just need to use the Tube
Sir: Can we stop all this "brave" Londoners stuff? The fact is that most of us have no choice but to use the Tube to get in from the outer boroughs. We're not being brave; we are simply continuing. I felt quite afraid coming in today and on Friday last on the way home there was an announcement of a suspect package; the fear goes on and it was actually always there.
Our government's illegal war (not in my name) and shameless killing of innocents in Iraq may not be directly the reason for this attack, but we should be ashamed of calling ourselves brave to simply go to work in one of the most protected cities in the world. The citizens of Baghdad are brave; we on the whole are simply fortunate to be where we are and this bleating about being brave should stop, out of respect for the victims here, in Iraq and elsewhere.
Sir: I find Jemima Lewis's account of the "myth of stoicism" in the wake of the London bomb attacks ill-timed and offensive (Comment, 11 July)
These are particularly difficult and uncertain times for many Londoners, and probably other big city dwellers. There is little wrong in aspiring to those qualities so admirably displayed by the older generation during the Blitz. I have been touched by messages of goodwill and support from around the world. What is wrong in feeling a certain pride in seeing the way we Londoners calmly go on with our business and get on with our lives and the way we refuse to bow to murderers?
I was born and have grown up in peacetime Britain, long after the "thrill" of the nightly air-raid attacks. Call me boring but I don't need the thrill of stepping onto a crowded Tube train or bus every day, wondering if the journey will be my last and further wondering what will happen to my three-year-old orphaned daughter if mummy doesn't come home.
Sir: It seems rather petty for Jemima Lewis to write an article moaning that after 9/11 New Yorkers showed more resilience than Londoners but did not get the credit they deserved. With no disrespect to either Londoners or New Yorkers, surely it would be much more appropriate to write a similar article about the resilience of the thousands of Iraqi people living with and through much worse bombing than London and New York combined.
Now stand united against the bigots
Sir: Having felt a deep sense of pride in my country since the events of last Thursday I now feel a correspondingly deep sense of shame and disgust.
Who are we to rail against the blind hatred of the terrorists who did this when in response people have visited terror and hatred on our own innocent Muslim citizens ("Warnings of Islamophobia after attacks on mosques", 12 July )? We must now stand united against the evil within us who would use these events to further their own racist ends.
Sir: The British people are tough. They have been attacked and have responded, thus far, valiantly. Despite an attack on their capital the likes of which has not been seen since the Second World War in London, the British people did not turn to pandemonium or panic.
Various Muslim British spokesmen, as well as international Muslim personalities, have taken the opportunity to reaffirm their complete and unequivocal opposition to these depraved acts. Islam allows no room for criminality.
As the dust settles, and the people of Britain shake off the effects of these strikes, as they no doubt will do, the people of our country must not be cowed. We expected intimidation from the terrorists, and their bombs must not cow us. We now expect intimidation from mindless bigots who may retaliate against innocents, and with forbearance, we must defy them. With forbearance, we must move in the best interests of this country, united in common purpose, and not allow the terrorists an iota of success by lowering our standards.
With vigilance, we must not allow any deterioration of the situation, and ensure that British Muslim compatriots not pay the price for these transgressions. Our greatest victory is in upholding the highest standards of decency and integrity, for it was against those same standards that war was waged.
DR HISHAM A HELLYER
CENTRE FOR RESEARCH IN ETHNIC RELATIONS UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK
The high price of our way of life
Sir: Although, like many people, I had been expecting that at some point London would be attacked, it did not lessen the shock of last Thursday. In no way would I ever condone the use of violence. My heart goes out to those who have suffered a loss. But again and again I hear the same message from our leaders. George Bush said it, Tony Blair said it. The Queen gave a version of it in her speech on Sunday. We will not allow terrorists to destroy "our way of life"; we have to defend "our way of life".
The G8 talks ended with little to offer the poor of this world except the promises that they have heard before. We will not cancel all the debt, without conditions, because of our way of life. We will not act on climate change because of our way of life. We will not alter our trade practices because of our way of life. Ultimately, we will not stop invading and bombing to further our way of life. But our way of life is destroying the lives of countless others on this planet; it also, out of injustice, creates anger.
In the past, no terrorism has been defeated through force of arms. It takes dialogue, negotiation, the willingness to change, to concede, to compromise, to agree to have less so that others can have more. When will we be big enough to start that dialogue?
BUCKLAND NEWTON, DORSET
Bush and the Iraq connection
Sir: Jim Poyser is surely mistaken when he states that "there would have been no Iraq war if 9/11 hadn't happened" (Letters, 11 July). The Project for the New American Century had advocated removing Saddam from power as far back as 1998, even writing to President Clinton to suggest this course of action.
Despite having no link with Iraq, the terrible events of 9/11 provided the neo-cons in the current administration with the excuse they needed to put their agenda into action. Had there been no 9/11 I don't doubt that another reason (such as weapons of mass destruction) would have been found.
Sir: As an American, I want to offer both my condolences and an apology for the terrible terrorist attack in London. I apologise because this attack should have never happened to the British people. It is a result of my American president lying to Prime Minister Blair and the people of the world. Mr Bush failed in his promise to "hunt down" Osama bin Laden, and decided instead to seek revenge against his father's arch-rival, Saddam Hussein.
As the Downing Street memos show, the entire war was premised on a lie. The hostility against America and her allies is a direct result of that lie. The attacks in London would not have happened had America stuck to her promise and used her international good will to bring the true perpetrators to justice. Instead we embarked on the Eighth Crusade and stirred the hornets' nest of Islamic hostility.
America owes a debt of gratitude to the British people for their steadfast loyalty, but more than anything we owe you a heartfelt apology.
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, USA
Sir: The bombs in London were an unjustifiable atrocity. Why then are we so willing to inflict similar terror and destruction in other places thousands of miles away with so little apparent empathy for the people there?
Perhaps we would be less enthusiastic in attacking other countries if we knew the "war" would directly affect us at home. One of my strongest memories of the invasion of Iraq is the juxtaposition between the TV images of "shock and awe" and the apparent normality in Leeds. People shopping, eating and drinking and so on whilst we and our allies kill and maim in large numbers many miles away.
Sir: No doubt the debate in your columns regarding the influence of the Iraq war on the London bombers will continue for some time, and rightly so. What cannot be denied is that Tony Blair expressly ignored warnings from his intelligence officials that invasion of Iraq would make Britain a more likely target for terrorist attack.
For this reason, the Prime Minister must accept his share of responsibility for the deaths which have occurred. The Conservatives, too, cannot escape blame, for having failed effectively to challenge the Government on this matter.
M A TIMMS
Don't tell us not to grieve
Sir: I am really appalled by the response of Ken Livingstone and the Government to the disaster of 7 July. To tell Londoners to "carry on as usual" and not to grieve is insulting to both the victims and their families.
The Spanish government called for three days of mourning. This would have been an appropriate response and shown that we cared for those who have lost their lives, for their families, for those people still missing and for the emergency services who are witnessing horrific scenes under my apartment block near Russell Square tube.
Many of those in my area are deeply affected by what has happened. Most heard or saw the bomb going off in Tavistock Square; many were involved in the evacuation. Children are having nightmares and are traumatised. The feeling is generally one of emptiness. To tell us to keep our spirits up and to carry on as usual shows no concern or respect for anyone. Have our lives changed? Of course they have.
ECCY DE JONGE
A silence for the victims worldwide
Sir: What better way to undermine the violence of terrorism and those who actively or tacitly support it than to strike at the basis of that support by devoting this Thursday's two minutes' silence not only to the innocent victims of the atrocity in London but also the equally innocent victims in Madrid, Fallujah, Bali, Khartoum, Casablanca, Kabul, Baghdad and elsewhere.
Symbolically demonstrating empathy and solidarity with victims of all terrorist violence and their families at the same time as we remember our own victims will surely be a more potent weapon against all those perpetrators of terrorist violence than any conventional weapon.
STOCKSBRIDGE, SOUTH YORKSHIRE
Ever more violence in 'war on terror'
Sir: So many of us Londoners demanded no war, knowing that violence is best bred by violence. War can never triumph over terror, as war is terror. To subscribe to a "war on terror" is to subscribe to a cycle of violence and to the end of humanity.
Many of us Londoners are perhaps as angry as the terrorists who carried out Thursday's terrible attacks on our city. We are angry at the wars our government wages abroad and the democratic freedoms it erodes at home, purporting to do so in the name of the British people. And yet it is peace we choose and peace for which we renew our demands: this war on terror is not in our name.
Who had it coming?
Sir: Rupert Read (letter, 12 July) writes, concerning the London terrorist attacks, that we had it coming to us. Would he care to explain what any of the 74 victims had done to deserve being murdered?
ROTHERHAM, SOUTH YORKSHIRE
The Irish experience
Sir: Yasmin Alibhai Brown (Opinion, 7 July) should have spoken to Irish people living in Britain before asserting that they, unlike Muslims today, were never asked to denounce the bombers when an IRA bomb went off. I recall many such apologies - including the occasional "ashamed to be Irish" - along with attacks on Irish clubs, not to mention headlines that were variations on "Irish bastards". I also recall being asked to explain "what I thought of" each bombing.
Sir: Whitehall was closed on Saturday for the unveiling of a memorial to the contribution of women in the Second World War, not a security cordon around Tony Blair (letter, 11 July) . You may want to criticise Mr Blair for many things, but check your facts first.
Sir: Over the days since the 7 July outrage in London I have read letters to this newspaper with amazement. People are understandably trying to fathom why this terrorist act was committed. They blame Tony Blair, George Bush, the invasion of Iraq, the Anglo-American alliance, British foreign policy, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, poverty, inequality and now (12 July), Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan; everyone it seems except the ones who did it.
REDCLIFFE, QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA
Sir: Panos Mouryelas (letter, 11 July) says that the Greek and Cypriot governments fear that their citizens caught up in the bomb blasts may not be identified because, "UK citizens do not carry personal IDs". I have just looked in my wallet; it contains seven items with my name on them, four of these include my signature, and two my address.
S P ROUSE
Business as usual
Sir: As a visitor to your country, I am full of admiration for the wonderful spirit of defiance and stoicism shown by the people of London.To share in a little of that spirit I decided to travel by underground on Monday, only to have my purse and all its contents stolen. It seems that the criminal element is also carrying on as normal despite the pain and suffering of others. I will return to Australia with mixed memories.
COTTESLOE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA
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