This time a year ago I was in Edinburgh University Library, watching the news pour in from London, my home city. The BBC had some months earlier run a programme called Crisis Command where celebrities were put in a fictitious “you are in control of the country while terrorists are attacking London” scenario, and there was touch of familiar unreality about the whole event; in some ways the incoming pictures looked just like the fictitious game; often, it can be quite hard to appreciate how news (and news television in particular) is crafted and framed just like any piece of fiction, until the most horrible of events happens somewhere you happen to know intimately well. Places familiar to me – Aldgate, King’s Cross, Edgware Road – now looked like they were being used as a movie set. Agitating me further were the unconfirmed reports (and ultimately proven false) reports of eight or nine buses exploding, or a suicide bomber being shot dead near Canary Wharf – anyone remember that?
I imagine many of the rest of us fortunate enough to not be caught up in the horror of that day were similarly bewildered and confused. And yet a year on, much of the confusion remains; many questions remain, not just of the emergency service response that day but also about the bombers themselves and the intelligence services’ role. At the same time, the recommendations of commissions and working groups set up after July 7 to rebuild community links with British Muslims and combat alienation and radicalisation have been steadfastly ignored by the government. It is clear that the government is unwilling to confront either the events of that day, or the wider problems that created the climate extremism thrives on.
When honouring those who were killed and maimed a year ago, please consider that many questions remain unanswered and many lessons are still to be learnt. The ever-steadfast Rachel North has made clear her call for a full public inquiry into July 7th. Please read her post, and the links provided. You can also sign the petition calling for a public inquiry. Additionally, write to your MP (particularly if your MP is Labour), asking them to back the call for an inquiry, and to lobby the government to do more on tackling the causes of extremism and reducing alienation. The current climate of fear and suspicion is not a safe one, nor is it sustainable; we should all do a little bit in getting the government to change it.