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 Letter from London
 Anonymous, United Kingdom
 July 8, 2005
 

"As far as is known, friends and family are all well.

"But we are now bracing ourselves for the aftermath: increased government controls, pushing through of legislation that will further curtail civil liberties (already the historic right to demonstrate outside Parliament has been lost and legislation introduced that can be used to curtail any form of political protest and opposition). The resistance to the introduction of ID cards will now be weakened.

"There is also expected to be increased racism towards anyone 'foreign' (which of course will include brown and 'olive' people born and brought up here). One eye-witness who just stepped off the bus before it was blown up talks of an 'olive-skinned man' who was 'agitated and kept looking in his bag'. The presumption is that he was the bomber and not looking for his mobile that was lost in the bottom of the bag . . . The major news story this morning is the question: were these 'recently arrived people' or 'sleeper cells' or 'home-grown radicalised' people. The language used is pretty scary and doesn't bode well.

"Directly linked, we are bound to see increased pressure from the fundamentalists, using these attacks and their possible aftermath as a justification, for the passage of the Labour Government's proposed legislation creating the crime of 'religious hatred'. Secular and progressive groups have been resisting its introduction arguing that it will inevitably be used not mainly against racists but to silence alternative voices within religious communities and migrant communities. Already there are some trying to make political capital out of this: there have been false reports of attacks on 'Muslims' on websites run by extreme Rightist Islamist groups.

"Interestingly, given features of attacks in Russia and elsewhere, the reports only speak of 'finding these men'—not one is considering the possibility of women being responsible. I suppose it's a blessing in a way because there were already enough attacks on veiled women after 9/11 . . .

"And sadly, another effect will be the increased legitimacy for the supposedly 'moderate Muslim' voices that pay lip service to being against terrorism but have an unchanged fundamentalist, fascist social agenda. Already such groups like the homophobic, anti-semitic and highly patriarchal Muslim Council of Britain are being given prominence. The Muslim Association of Britain is even worse—it has remained totally silent on the mass rapes in Darfur and yet its first statement on the events in London is clearly designed to create fear around the need to 'protect' the bodies of 'Muslim women'. Its President was reported in a statement as saying "particularly women in headscarves, should be vigilant and avoid unnecessary journeys".

All the commentators on radio this morning apart from Police and government officials were religious leaders—Christian and Muslim. While official voices like the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed that he knew the attacks were abhorrent to Islam, the very fact that he highlighted repeatedly the point that he had been in touch with 'Muslim leaders' in a way does make it seem that religion—rather than gross acts of violence—is the focal issue after all. Muslims of course in particular or people from a Muslim cultural background are being viewed only in terms of their religious identity or presumed religious identity rather than any other aspect of their identity. This will have long-term effects.

"What is most frightening is not the threat of more horrors —Londoners recall the IRA bombings and we have all known that this brand of terrorism was going to happen one day (not 'if' but 'when')—but the fact that it is already clear that the policy response, both in terms of interior and foreign policy, will continue to be highly illogical. It is mind-boggling how a government can so efficiently work towards the absolute opposite of the national and international situation that would prevent such attacks from happening in future.

"For all of us this will mean more than ever before trying to strengthen and protect progressive and secular voices, especially within the UK and the European 'Muslim communities'. Already the messages from some of the UK women's migrant groups focus entirely on highlighting fears of increased attacks on 'Muslims'. It will be much more difficult for such groups to now oppose the fundamentalist leadership within the community."

The above letter represents the first reaction from a Londoner to the July 7, 2005 bombings which is currently being circulated by e-mail. The text is also available at Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUMF).