7/7 London bombings 10th anniversary: Sadiq Khan - "Our spirit of togetherness saw to it that the terrorists failed"

 
Sadiq Khan
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As the events unfolded right there in front of our eyes I felt a dread and a fear (Source: Getty)
I can remember all too vividly where I was on the 7th July 2005, when word started filtering through that there had been several explosions on London’s public transport network.
I was with my staff in our House of Common's office and all of us were in high spirits as we were still digesting the fantastic news from the day before that our magnificent city had been chosen to host the Olympic Games.
But that air of jubilation and excitement in the room quickly gave way to a real worry as confusion first reigned - and then the sinking feeling as the pictures of the carnage flashed across the screens.
As the events unfolded right there in front of our eyes – the scenes of flashing blue lights, the images of Londoners wearing anxious expressions, and the sight of those emergency personnel rushing headlong to the aid of the victims with scant regard for their own personal safety – I felt a dread and a fear.

The dread was at what this meant - what was behind this brutal act that's caused this needless loss of innocent life and the fear was like every other Londoner - are my family and friends okay?
Where were they? Were they safe? Frantic phone calls were made and messages exchanged with my nearest and dearest. Every time I was able to establish contact with one of them I felt a huge sense of relief. But I knew it could so easily have been my wife and daughters, or my mum or brothers and sister, or their families, killed or injured down there in the dark or riding on the top deck of that Number 30 bus.
And I also knew that men and women, young and old, married and single, would not be returning home to their housemates or loved ones that night. I felt shock at the thought of Londoners killed while aboard public transport – travelling along the very arteries that keep the city’s beating heart alive, that I’ve travelled everyday, all my life.
The sense of trauma was followed by anger and disgust that men claiming to be Muslims were responsible for these attacks.
I’m one of the 600,000 Muslim Londoners and I’m proud of my faith. But I felt utter revulsion when I heard that people who say they share my religion, pray to the same God and follow the same Quran, could inflict such horror on other human beings. Especially here where we are proud of our traditions of tolerance and respect.
They were not following the same teachings I had been taught from the Quran or our Prophet. A Prophet who preached compassion, mercy and forgiveness – who taught that killing an innocent person is like killing entire humanity.
Neither was this my Islam – but a twisted and perverted form of it, a million miles away from the peaceful and tolerant version I and countless others follow.
I prayed for the victims of the attacks and their families and friends too.
And then my thoughts turned to the inevitable backlash that would follow against the kind of communities I grew up in, where I knew this senseless slaughter would be abhorred and condemned unequivocally.
But out of the darkness of that day, London’s irrepressible spirit shone through. The city simply refused to give in to the extremists or accept their narratives. Peace and solidarity triumphed over hate and the next day its people returned in their millions to the buses and tubes.
It was a silent display of defiance that sent a powerful message to the terrorists – we stand together, side by side, and we will not be cowed nor divided by your actions.
And so 10 years on, as I reflect on that tragic day, which affected me profoundly as it did so many other Londoners, I am acutely aware that we must never forget those who lost their lives. Their families are still suffering today.
But equally I am aware also that we must never forget the unity we – Londoners – showed in its aftermath. Where an attack on London was viewed as an attack on us all. And where the confidence we placed in our values and our spirit of togetherness ultimately saw to it that the terrorists failed.

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