Friday, July 15, 2005

Proud to be a Londoner

I wrote this (well most of it) on the Central Line yesterday evening on the way back from the vigil:

Today my conviction in the people of London has been restored. Not that it ever wavered but I do confess that feelings of trepidation over the reports by the prints of increased racist attacks did gripped me.

The bombers had seek to turn Londoners against each other. They failed. The ultra right racists and fascists that has attempted to use the tragedy to promote their brand of bigotry and in doing so seek to turn Londoners against each other. They too has failed.

All these were apparent in Trafalgar Square. Today we stood together under the hot burning sun, with the eyes of the world turned on us, we embraced each other as one. United.

At about 6pm, writer Ben Okri came up on stage. He read a poem. Ken Livingstone then came up and give his speech.

They have failed to turn us against each other.

And those were the messages. Messages of restraint. Do not give in to hate, vengeance and bigotry. No one, bar a couple, mentioned nationality. London is a city with every single nationality in it. What we have is the world diverse with people of varying cultures, different faiths (or no-faiths), of different race and tribes and 300 languages.

Cheerings by the tens of thousands who gathered were heard every time a speaker denounced hatred. Justice, not vengeance; solidarity, not hatred; peace, not war; solution, not blame. We admire their strength, the emergency crew who responded rapidly; Jeff Porter, the tube driver of a Circle Line train which was caught up in the Edgware Road blast; and the many others working behind the scenes, in Tube control rooms, in call centres, all who ensured London went on as usual.

In the face of sadness and defiance, we can laugh. And we did when Jo Brand came up.

The world has been analysing Londoners reaction, or would be reaction, since 7th July. The malarkey that were suggested by a (thankfully) minority of blogs has shocked me. Some has expressed anticipation that the bombings would 'open our eyes' and we would give in to the ultra right, surrender our freedom and allow concentration camps for Arabs.

Wishful thinking. These things may be allowed to happen in certain 'undemocratic' countries, but I doubt the people of London would permit.

More than two years ago, 2 million people marched through London protesting the invasion of Iraq. Despite that, despite the efforts of Londoners and much of Britain's population being against the war, the government went ahead.

Do not think that these events will change our minds. Londoners are intelligent enough to determine for ourselves without being told by talking heads, media and bombers. Just because the bombers happened to be Muslims does not mean all Muslims are mindless suicide killers.

(Many outside of London do not know that Edgware Road, the scene of one of the tube bombing, has a large Muslim community)

Why should be blame them? The IRA has bombed this city countless of times and in those times we accepted Catholics and Irish into our city.

When I first came to london in February 1996 as a tourist, it was during a time when the IRA ended its ceasefire with a bombing in the Docklands. Then there was the 'accidental' bombing of a Routemaster bus by Edward O' Brien. There were no widespread hatred then, there shouldn't be now. Even when further bombs were let off by the IRA, Londoners still prevailed.

I might not have been here during the Blitz (I was minus 36 years old), but it seems the strong will of defiance is totally infectious.

There are more than seven million people who call London as home. I do too. When asked by strangers where am I from, I would state with pride "London". Of course I wasn't born here, I am not even British (just Commonwealth), but that isn't important. The important thing is I am a Londoners and am proud to be one.

There really isn't any other place quite like London. If the world would be a single country, then London would be its capital.

Ken Livingstone believes that this city represents "something closer to the future of humanity than any other point on the planet". I believe him. If only every single city in the world would be like London, vibrant and tolerant, then this world would be a much better and safer place.

Soon the playful behaviour of London will return. We will mourn them, then we will get wasted at the pub. You see, nobody can change us. We will do what we like and there is nothing anybody can do about it. Not even terrorists.


T-Boy said...

Oh, bloody good post!

I was going to subject Aizuddin to a series of painful, degrading, life-changing and amusing hypothetical thought experiments, but I think I shall spend some time plugging you instead!

Good show!

Jay said...

I've only been here for 5 years, but I really can't see myself living anywhere else in the world. It's an adopted home - but it's home.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear.

Jon said...

cheers T-boy.

Jay, it is home, and one I hope to call home for many years to come.

mei xian said...

so u're getting a pr there or migrate there or somethin?