London bombings – 10 years on

According to Wikipedia:The 7 July 2005 London bombings (often referred to as 7/7) were a series of coordinated suicide bomb attacks in central London which targeted civilians using the public transport system during the morning rush hour. On the morning of Thursday, 7 July 2005, four Islamists separately detonated three bombs in quick succession aboard London Underground trains across the city and, later, a fourth on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square. Fifty-two civilians were killed and over 700 more were injured in the attacks, the United Kingdom’s worst terrorist incident since the 1988 Lockerbie bombing as well as the country’s first ever suicide attack”.

Yesterday marked the tenth anniversary of the bombings. The BBC reported: “Services have been held to remember the “ocean of pain” caused by the London bombings, in which 52 people died and more than 700 were hurt a decade ago”. It seemed quite evident from the reports, including interviews with those who lost loved ones, the ocean of pain remains. As one who lost my dad 37 years ago in a needless accident, I can at least to an extent identify with the pain, a desire to make sense out of what happened and find, if ever that is possible, closure. It has not been my purpose here to pontificate on what could or should happen but given I have been reading a report written soon after the tragedy of 7/7 titled “London Bombings – Warnings and Support” it got all me thinking.

Ten years on and although there have been terrorist incidents in the UK it has been nowhere near on the scale of what happened with the 7/7 bombings, and for that we need to be thankful. However, we have seen terrorist acts in other countries and the continuing rise of radical Islam that feels little compunction about killing the innocent in order to promote their islamification agenda. How we deal with this is a big question but deal with it we must. I have already considered the government’s anti-extremist agenda and while I would have liked to support it I fear its approach is often naïve and sometimes counter-productive particularly toward Christians whose views do not align with today’s pre-occupation with equality.

As for Islam, I have gone out of my way (even alienating some of my Christian friends) to try to understand and befriend Muslims with some success, feeling this is necessary in a day when islamophobia is on the rise. I would also urge my “moderate” Muslim friends to be unequivocal when it comes to distancing themselves and condemning the hard line actions we are seeing and for the government to wake up to the fact that while it may want to believe that most Muslims living in the UK are peaceful, law abiding citizens, there is a significant minority that aren’t and they take their cue from what they perceive to be an attack upon Islam and their correct understanding of the tenets of Islam.

Of course there are practical things that can be done to bring about to defeat terrorism and I believe a debate is needed with the right actions to be taken. If not Islam, there have been many other examples in the past, e.g. some of the excesses of the IRA, and there are lessons to be learned. I am mindful of the “Blessed are the Peacemakers” teachings of Jesus and other teachings which are radical by any standard. For example, we are taught to love our enemies and forgive them and pray for those who persecute us and while I am disinclined toward pacifism, I believe we are called upon to take seriously the teaching of Jesus and in doing so good may come out of evil and lead to a better world.

As for a message for those living still affected by what happened 7th July 2005, and anyone else grieving for whatever reason. I would not want to intrude on your grief, especially with pious platitudes or sentimental slosh, but something that has provided me comfort and healing are the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain, But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again. There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin sick soul“, which is why besides being a community activist that agonizes over these matters, I am also a preacher of the Gospel.

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