7/7 remembered: Hope, not terror, will win in the end

Qari Asim, the Imam at Makkah Majjid Mosque, Leeds.
Qari Asim, the Imam at Makkah Majjid Mosque, Leeds.
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The 10th anniversary of the 7 July 2005 attacks in London comes at a particularly gloomy time when we are mourning the loss of innocent British lives in Tunisia.

7 July 2005 was an unforgettably terrible day.

A plethora of emotions overcomes me as every time I recall the causalities resulting from the terrible suicide bombings in London.

I never thought that such heinous crimes will ever be committed in our country by fellow Britons against innocent civilians.

For me as a Yorkshireman and a Muslim, it was particularly sickening and painful that three young men from my dynamic city, Leeds, and belonging to my peace-loving faith had committed these appalling crimes.

I have stood time and time again with men and women who have experienced tremendous loss as a result of this attack; their tremendous courage and determination continues to inspire me to this day.

I have also heard the experiences of young Muslims who, at times, have been singled out or profiled, or have suffered bigotry following those attacks.

The 7/7 attacks on British soil have, arguably, changed the way communities live and interact with each other. 10 years on, I am proud to say that we as a society reacted extremely solemnly and graciously.

We did not fall apart or tore each other apart.

Instead, the terrible attacks brought people together. This was an attack on Britain, and the victims were all of us – young and old, black and white, different faiths and none.

People living in the neighbourhoods of Beeston or Hyde Park, who may not had spoken to each other before, came out of their homes in the aftermath of 7/7 to offer support and comfort to each other; no gesture of compassion or act of selflessness - from offering cups of tea to beds to each other - was too small.

It was a real demonstration humanity at best.

People of Leeds discovered a new resilient humanity.

The 10th anniversary is first and foremost about remembering those lives lost or changed forever.

But it is also an important moment to reflect upon the last 10 years and how the threat of extremism is affecting us in Leeds and British public.

As an Imam, the threat of extremism is real for me. For British Muslims the threat from these extremists is four-fold. We are part of Britain and therefore any attack on Britain, or British people abroad, is a direct attack on us.

Second, these extremists send a false message to our fellow Brits that Muslims don’t want to be part of Britain – they try to breed hatred, fear and suspicion, thereby creating division between communities.

Third, they have hijacked our faith Islam and commit terror in the name of our faith. Fourth, these fanatics try to indoctrinate young impressionable individuals with hatred against their own countrymen and women, or lure them away to a warzone thousands of miles away.

It is why British Muslims are at the forefront of the efforts to combat threat of extremism because it affects us as much as anyone else.

The decade that has followed 7/7 attacks has been an anxious one for Britain. But none of us want fear and hate to win.

Even on the horrific day of 7/7, Leeds showed a magnanimous spirit; it was clear we would refuse to let terrorist win.

Citizens of Leeds will come together on the eve of 7/7 at Eland Road to pay tribute to those who died, to their families and the injured and survivors of 7/7, and send out a strong message to the terrorists - their attempts to divide us and destroy our society were neither successful then, nor they will be successful in the future.

They failed then, they will fail now.