'It's there all the time, the fear of what could happen next'

The Home Front: 3 The People's War

The Leicester Muslim

Dilwar Hussain, 30, a researcher for the Islamic Foundation, lives in Leicester with his wife Rabiha Hannan and a two-year-old daughter, Zainab.

People's looks in the street have changed; everyone's attention is on us. Mosques have been firebombed, women had their scarves pulled off, and the other day a bunch of girls screamed "bin Laden, bin Laden" in two of my sisters' faces. It's there all the time, the fear of what could happen.

Rabiha and I have thought about little else. Daily life is on pause. We've both felt stressed and depressed. Every night after we've talked about it, I go to my terminal and email other Muslims and then at midnight I watch CNN till two or three in the morning.

People feel attacked by Muslims, but many Muslims died in the twin towers – even a mosque built on the premises was destroyed. I believe that escalating the violence will only precipitate further violence. Terrorists breed in isolation and the more you play into that scenario the more you'll fuel their anger and help them win people to their cause.

We're fighting a fire which has been lit by someone else. My family and the whole Muslim community is under the spotlight and everything we've achieved over the past decades is in danger.

The American in London

American Patty Deppe-Greenall, 40, is a consultant astrologer who has been living in England for 15 years. Recently divorced, she lives with her two children, Daisy, 12, and William, 9, in London.

I just had a feeling of total doom, of "Oh my God, this means war" and the grim realisation that a year down the line life would be totally different.

At the moment I'm worried about chemical warfare. I'm getting paranoid about the Tube. My daughter travels to school by underground every day and I feel like keeping her home. Yesterday I got all the way down to the platform and then walked out again and got a taxi home. I felt selfish leaving everyone down there but I was so nervous. The taxi driver told me that Laurence Corner [an army supplies store] has sold out of gas masks but I haven't gone to that extreme yet. I don't believe living is just for survival.

My daughter isn't that interested, but my son is glued to the news.I don't see these events outside myself – we are all in some way connected. Most Americans don't realise that in some way they've made their bed. I'm not as patriotic as some Americans but I feel very proud of America for its display of defiance. Some kind of comeback (I don't like to use the word retaliation) is necessary.

The Jewish pensioner

Retired company director Lawrie Nerva, 79, is a British-born Jew living in London with his wife Ruby.

I've been thinking a lot about my children and grandchildren, but you have to profess a state of confidence in the future and not let them become affected by it.

With the Second World War there was a known enemy. We went through terrible times of despair but at least there was a line of approach, a methodology. I'm gravely worried because we're dealing with an unknown factor. I've never thought much about flying but inevitably now one thinks about what's happened and what could happen. I'm also aware of the likelihood of a repeat of what happened on Japan's subway.

In the event of the terrorists being cornered I have no doubt they would use weapons of mass destruction. The whole point about weapons of mass destruction has been that fear of reprisal prevents them being used, but none of that applies any more.

The outcry from certain quarters that Israel was the cause of the terror attack is a dreadful calumny which should be fiercely rebutted. Israel itself has suffered grievously at the hands of suicide bombers.

My prayers are that terrorists everywhere will soon be brought to justice.

The soldier?s mother

Sue Waterson, 52, a waitress and barmaid, lives in Broadstairs, Kent. She has two sons. Elder son Justin, 30, is a sergeant in the paras, presently stationed in London.

Every morning when the paper comes through the door I dread the headline. Wherever Justin has gone, whether Bosnia, Kosovo or Northern Ireland, I've been the same. Reading about the latest events is a way of keeping in touch with his life. I'm ever so anxious for him. I spoke to him recently and they've been put on six-hour alert. He's been in the army for 12 years and having just done his second tour of Northern Ireland, he's possibly a bit more prepared.

On 11 September, my only thought was for the tragedy in America, but then bin Laden was mentioned and Tony Blair and President Bush were all joined together and I knew this meant the armed forces. Suddenly it all came a lot closer to home. Everyone I speak to is frightened. No one is interested in spending money or making any big plans. I usually go on holiday at this time of year but I'm so pleased I didn't book anything because if I was abroad I'd only be worrying about getting home. The fact that it's completely out of our hands makes me feel pretty powerless. The people I serve at the bar are all subdued and frightened. It's changed everybody.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments