7/7 remembered: ‘Best way to honour is to safeguard our young people’

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn
Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn
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Hilary Benn says the best way to honour the victims of the 7/7 attacks is to fight the extreme ideology behind the atrocity.

Three of the four suicide bombers who carried out the attacks had lived in the MP’s Leeds Central constituency, but Mr Benn said their actions had “nothing to do with the values and beliefs of our great city”.

Mr Benn was international development secretary in the then Labour government and was in a cabinet meeting when news of the bombings broke.

“I walked out of the cabinet room, turned right, went into the office next door and on a television was a picture of the number 30 bus with the roof blown off. It was at that moment that I understood what had happened.”

During the ensuing days and weeks parts of Leeds came under intense scrutiny because of their association with the bombers.

But Mr Benn said the events of that day strengthened community ties.

He said: “A few days after the attacks a far right group gathered at the bottom of Tempest Road at the Broadway pub looking to cause trouble.

“Police dealt with it really well and told them to go on their way. And the community came together in this context of shock.

“It did not allow itself to be divided.”

He said recent attacks, including the Tunisia beach massacre and the suicide bombing in Iraq carried out by a teenager from Dewsbury, showed Britain needed to “redouble” efforts to counter extremism.

“The best way we can honour those who lost their lives is to try and safeguard our young people from this radical ideology which is leading some people to be groomed,” he added.