Extraordinary London

8 July 2005

Huda Jawad

I feel shock, anger, dread and intimidation. I and my friends have individually shed personal tears yesterday for what happened, all those innocent individuals who chose London as their home, place of work or tourist destination  - believing it (and rightly so) to be one of the most unique cities in the world with much history, character and above all a place where everyone can be, can belong - were randomly and callously caught up in the carnage.

I remember when I was a young girl living in Damascus, hearing adults talking about London being a city where you can be anything, wear anything and eat anything without people batting an eyelid. I used to sit listening in wonderment at such a magical place where dreams and wishes were realised if you really worked hard. And above all, this is why I think multi-cultural London was targeted. The bombs were not planted near or targeted at government institutions, financial blocks or politicians. The target was the extraordinary Londoner, who easily and skilfully manages to walk and sail through the complex and confusing actual and imagined boundaries of London, where you gain your uniqueness and ‘extra-ordinariness’ by giving and taking from living in the city.

Targeting the extraordinary Londoner was a way to strip us and take away from us the wonderful gift of being a people of multiple identities, cultures and interests and our ability to be united in our love and loyalty to London. The sheer number of people that turned out to work in quiet defiance this morning dashes the hopes of these criminals who thought that they could disable our resolve to stay true to our London heritage, that of valuing difference, seeking respect in diversity and loving others through tolerance and acceptance. Oh what little they know about London and its people.

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