Thursday, July 07, 2005

Britain's Golden Day 

Britain's Golden Day was the headline in the Independent on July 7th, which like the other papers delighted in London's successful bid for the 2012 Olypmic Games. The following day's headlines were rather different. [This post was written on July 7th, it has since been updated slightly].

"This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever". Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London

"What happened in London is another hideous crime of global terrorists against humanity! ...The OWFI strongly condemns the carnage and crimes committed by Islamists. They should be condemned by all. The Islamists should be denied any support or sympathy. The self appointed leaders of the world in the G 8 summit have announced their determination on the continuation of the “War on terror”, but they cannot bring it to an end... and are responsible for the war, destruction, hunger and poverty in the world." Houzan Mahmoud, in a statement on behalf of the Organisation for Women's Freedom in Iraq

The details still obscure, I thought I'd better put out a brief post from London for today's massacre. The figure doing the rounds at the moment is of 52 people killed (and a thousand injured) in a series of bombings on Underground stations - Liverpool Street, Edgeware Road, King's Cross Station (the site of the worst casualties so far), and on a bus in Tavistock Square. The final death toll looks set to be lower than comparable episodes in Madrid, but higher than any massacre or bombing in England or Ireland since the Second World War.

London Undergound passengers are evacuated through a tunnel near King's Cross. Photo taken by Alexander Chadwick and sent to BBC Online.

Toby Mason took this photo of the bombed out bus in Tavistock Square.

The Underground and central London bus services have been brought to a halt, while the phone lines have been partially shut down as people attempt to contact friends and relatives across the city. By all accounts, however, the emergency service workers have performed very well.

A previously unknown Islamist group has claimed responsibility for the attack, though this may not be genuine. London is a city where the majority of people opposed the Iraq War, it is a site of huge campaigns against war and poverty, campaigns that hopefully can survive this act of murder. Places such as Edgeware Road and Algate have large Muslim populations - the largest in Britain. London is at the centre of progressive politics in England. Those who have carried out this massacre have served only to re-emphasise their personal cruelty and the moral bankruptcy of their religious and political chauvinism.

A passanger is comforted outside Euston Station. (Photo Getty Images)

The G8 leaders, currently using this country as a venue for their secretive and undemocratic efforts at management of the global economy, have, needless to say, taken the chance to express their continued commitment to their own moral bankruptcy. They would be better off finding some sympathy for the victims of their own policies than expressing unasked-for concern for Londoners.

Peace and solidarity all, Alex Higgins, Tottenham, London (respond_aleblog@yahoo.co.uk)

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