Communities Need to Have Faith in Each Other
On the morning of July 7, 2005, London was attacked and repercussions were felt throughout the world. Within days, the four young men behind the worst terror attack in British history had been identified and all four were UK citizens. British-born Muslims who were, according to an official 7/7 report, “well integrated into British society” and had “unexceptional backgrounds.”
The 10th anniversary of the 7/7 attacks in London comes at a particularly gloomy time when Britain is still mourning the loss of innocent British lives in Tunisia. Families travelling to Syria to join Islamic State to the attack in Tunisia – the threat from terrorism has become a politically priority. The attacks in London made the whole issue of terrorism real to British citizens.
Over the next ten years, the entire Muslim community would be scrutinised and subjected to unprecedented levels of baseless suspicion. What followed was a whole lot of apologising and condemning from the Muslim community – all which fell on deaf ears. At the time of the incident, Tony Blair had said ‘the rules of the game had changed.’ This was more evident for British Muslims. Being spied on, stopped and searched, some elaborate security structures to combat home grown extremism; the country became a big brother nation.
Sajda Mughal, a survivor of the 7/7 attacks, has said that the negative impact has come from the rise on anti-Muslim concepts and islamophobia, which has then led to Muslims feeling isolated and vulnerable to extremism. Sajda has gone on to set up the JAN Trust where she helps families ‘deradicalise’ individuals.
“Extremism to some degree is fuelled by Islamophobia, young Muslims are telling us first hand they have experienced it or their family has and that is making them feel alienated and that leaves some vulnerable to radicalisation. What was poignant for me and what stood out (after 7/7) was how Londoners came together to help everyone that day, regardless of your background, and that is what I would like to see happen today to tackle the issues of extremism and Islamophobia we are facing.”
A decade of reflection and consideration, the country has become more tolerant according to Qari Imam Asim. “Ten years on, I am proud to say that we – as a society – reacted extremely solemnly and graciously. We did not fall apart or tear each other apart. Instead, the terrible attacks brought people together. This was an attack on Britain, and the victims were all of us – young and old, black and white, different faiths and none.”
We are currently in the midst of an identity crisis, which includes what it means to be British. Uniting, we must have not bow down to the threat posed to all of us, regardless of faith, and show that collectively we are stronger and we will walk together.