• Tuesday, Dec 07, 2021
  • Last Update : 11:08 am

London hasn’t fallen

  • Published at 07:40 pm March 23rd, 2017
London hasn’t fallen

London, the city that everyone wants to visit at least once in their lifetime. It stands out among all other major cities of the world with the promise of the best security. Yet, it bleeds as terror has struck the heart of democracy -- the Westminster Palace.

A day after life in London appeared normal to me with slow-moving traffic during rush hour, is it the same as it was like on the morning of the 23rd? Definitely not. For me, at least, it will never be the same as I walk down the streets of London. Until this terrorist attack, I knew London was among the safest places on earth, but now it is not. And this is the biggest blow to this city, a city which has a Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan.

The best part for me is how the British people along with the media have stood up alongside the government not only in condemning terrorists but also helping their country in this hour of need. People have come out on the streets and many tourists too. Bravo to them. Police until now have made arrests and have said that a lone man first ploughed through a crowd of tourists on Westminster Bridge and then stabbed to death a police officer who stopped him from entering the Palace at its gate. But he was most likely inspired by Islamist terrorists like the IS.

No one has claimed responsibility so far, but Islamist radical websites have celebrated this attack on democracy.

Police were quick to alert residents and diplomatic missions to be more cautious as vigilance was increased across the city of London. The choice of attack is significant and that makes us wonder if the attacker was alone or if he had others with him to plan the attack. The parliament, which represents democracy, is an institution terrorists do not like.

Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian newspaper, “this attack is a tragedy, but not a threat to democracy.” He cautioned the media about its modus operandi during such incidents. “After the Brussels attack, Europe’s media were close to hysterical. IS couldn’t have asked for a greater megaphone,” he had added.

The parliament, which represents democracy, is an institution terrorists do not like

But Islamist attacks are against democracy and rule of law as IS has proven in areas they have controlled or still control. For them, it is a lust for blood, not reasoning. It is the wrong interpretation of the holy Qur’an for their selfish gains and going back to prehistoric times by making women their slaves.   

A large Bangladeshi diaspora with majority being Muslims live in Great Britain. Such attacks have implications for them too, as radicalised youths of the community have tarnished the image of the community as being progressive and liberal Muslims. Extremist elements like the Jamaat-e-Islami are blamed. Sermons in mosques are now monitored. A status on Facebook by a Bangladeshi man read: “Be alert as you go around, especially those with beards and wearing hijabs.”

It is indeed a relief to know that neither the attacker nor the victims are of Bangladeshi origin, but the blood spilled, as tourists in hordes plan to arrive for Spring, is indeed painful. Many will put off their plans to visit London as many did after the Holey attack in Dhaka. The use of a vehicle makes it difficult for security officials in dealing with terrorists.

British politicians have said: “No one can give 100% security ... but we must not bow down to the terrorists.” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina too has given the same message of “zero tolerance” to terrorism and we have made progress. You cannot uproot them in a day; it needs painstaking efforts to weed them out.

It is possible if Britain, Australia, the US, France, Belgium, and Germany join Bangladesh in not bowing down to terrorism by encouraging more visits to Dhaka and vice-versa. The Australian cricket team’s decision not to play in Bangladesh has only encouraged the terrorists.

The need for intelligence exchange and an end to criticising efforts by Dhaka in dealing with the scourge is a must. We need to stand together to defeat the evil of terrorism.

Nadeem Qadir is the Press Minister of Bangladesh High Commission in London.

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