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.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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