London Bombings – 10 years on
Leeds falls silent in memory of 7/7 victims
Thursday 7th July 2005 will forever be a date etched in the history books of Britain as 52 innocent lives were lost after four suicide bomb attacks in the capital.
This past week marked ten years on from that tragic day, with the nation paying their respects to the victims with a minute silence staged across the country.
In Leeds, home to three of the four suicide bombers, civic and community leaders gathered at Civic Hall for a special non-denominational event.
Timed to coincide with the national remembrance ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, the service was led by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Judith Chapman, and Leeds City Council Leader, Cllr Judith Blake.
The city representatives spoke of how the destructive acts committed by the terrorists, who targeted rush-hour tube stations and a bus, were entirely at odds with the spirit of community and cohesion in what, for some of the perpetrators, was their home city.
The Lord Mayor praised Leed’s resident’s response as they continue to ‘stand side-by-side’ in the fight against terrorism.
“We stand in solidarity with the city of London in commemorating these tragic events,” she said.
“Three of the perpetrators came from Leeds, yet they knew nothing of the values of this city or of tolerance, respect and democracy.
“We know we stand side-by-side with the people of Leeds in opposition to terrorism and we stand side by side in having tolerance and respect for each other.”
Cllr Blake added: “We are clear that we will not allow such terrible acts of violence to divert us from our values of tolerance and understanding: values that very much form the basis of this city and its diverse communities.
“It’s important, therefore, to today focus on the positive work we have done, and will continue to do, to tackle and prevent extremism in this city.”
Cllr Blake referenced the current and ongoing impact of terrorism across the world, including the recent atrocity in Tunisia as 38 tourists, 30 of them British, were massacred on a beach by gunmen.
Outlining some of the positive work that has taken place in Leeds to combat extremism, she added: “People of all faiths, as well as those with no faith, know what is right and wrong.
“Terrorism is always wrong. We condemn the 7/7 attacks and our sympathy, support and solidarity is with the victims, the survivors and their families.
“We will remain focused on ensuring Leeds is seen by all as a welcoming and compassionate city.”
Also speaking at the event was Hanif Malik, chief executive of the Hamara Healthy Living Centre in Beeston.
Having worked in the community where two of the four bombers lived prior to the attacks, he outlined his feelings about how the local community has come together and been strengthened as it heals from the impact of the tragic events.
“Ten years on from the atrocity of the 7/7 attacks, we all vividly recall our shock and horror at discovering that Leeds was linked to the tragic events,” he said.
“However, we are also able to recall the dignified and united response from all sections of our communities in ensuring that we remained resolute in not allowing the actions of a few to disrupt the cohesive nature of our home city.
“People of all faiths and backgrounds have stood together over the past decade in undertaking collaborative work to further strengthen our strong relationships and in being determined to highlight that the incident is not reflective of our community.
“Our sympathies today are with the families of those who lost loved ones and we stand united in condemning the attacks on the 7th July 2005 and indeed all such atrocities carried out in the name of faith.”
As the speeches concluded, the Ark Royal Room at Leeds Civic Hall, where the commemoration event was held, then fell quiet as a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the victims, timed to coincide with the national silence.