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
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).