New Bombing Close to “Home”

This latest terrorist attack, although in a different country, has oddly hit me closer to “home” than the attack in New York. That is because I know the area where the explosions happened relatively well.

This is a London Times graphic showing the location of the blasts. Prominently displayed is the Moorgate station, which was my station when working in London at the law firm of Devonshires Solicitors in 2002. I also often used the Liverpool Street station to commute to and from work in my daily commute.

This map shows the location of the Devonshires Solicitors offices at the Salisbury House in London Wall and Finsbury Circus.

The Salisbury House, shown in this picture, is a beautiful building as is this whole area of the City. To get to Moorgate and the Salisbury House, I would pass through the Edgware Road station, which was also a site of one of the blasts, to and from work on my daily commute on the Tube.

In addition to my own experience working in London and enjoying the charms of that magnificent city, my cousin currently lives and works in London. He works right across the street from St. Paul’s Cathedral. This hits him very close to home as well, since the blasts were close to that area.

Finally, as a graduate student of German literature, I attended lectures at the English Goethe Society, which is located at 29 Russell Square, near where one of the blasts occured (the bus that was exploded).

I offer my condolences to those who have lost loved ones and my outrage at the perpetrators. I ask with Ronan Head, where’s their outrage at this cowardly act against civilians? Yes, some Muslim clerics have condemned the attacks. The Times of London reports condemnation by Muslim clerics:

Muslims in the UK also joined in condemning the attacks. The British Muslim Forum said: “Our hearts go out to all those who have been affected and we express our sympathy to their families and friends.

“This is clearly a day of great disappointment coming after a day of great joy as our city of London only yesterday won the bid for hosting the Olympics 2012.

“We wholeheartedly support, congratulate and appreciate the efforts of the authorities that are currently dealing with the situation.”

Ahmed Versi, editor of The Muslim News, said: “We unequivocally condemn these terrorist attacks. We express our deep condolences to the families, relatives and friends of the victims.”

It is hard to take this statement at face value especially in light of the loudness of other clerics who are constantly calling for jihad, even in London. I am inclined to say that “real Islam” doesn’t condone this sort of thing, but is that really true? What about selections in the Qur’an that condone the killing of “infidels,” even be they innocents, such as women or children? Hasn’t Islam traditionally been an aggressive and violent religion? From the early Islamic conquest of Spain or the activity of the Ottoman Turks at the gates of Vienna to today’s London bombings, does the evidence really suggest that Islam is a religion of peace? Of course, pre-Restoration Christianity saw many wars with Christianity as a pretext, from the Crusades to the devastating Thirty Years War. Ultimately, this line of questioning quickly becomes Krakauer-esque in its paranoia that religion is merely a means to barbarism. This is certainly not the case. My hope is that the majority of Muslims in this world seriously condemn such terrorist acts and that they aren’t just giving lip-service to such condemnation while secretly thinking, “good for Bin-Laden, he and his followers are the only ones committed enough to practice true Islam in slaughtering the innocents among the infidels.”

2 Responses to New Bombing Close to “Home”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Nice maps, John. I, too, have travelled on the Underground, although I don’t remember the station names and was not a regular commuter as you were. Even on a normal day they can be crowded, hot, and stuffy, so this must certainly have been a traumatic experience for the thousands immediately impacted. The hundreds of thousands who now face a difficult and uncertain trip home through a wounded city will not forget the day either. Let’s hope London recovers quickly. 

    Posted by Dave

  2. Anonymous says:

    I feel like it’s somewhat futile to search for a “real Islam.” Bin Laden and his many followers clearly believe that Islam demands actual holy war against Christians in general and those countries with a military presense in the Middle East in particular. Other Muslims seem to sincerely believe in an Islam in which jihad means struggle for obedience and purity. Is either of these the “real Islam”? No. They are simply two different religions grouped together under one name.

    There are Mormons who believe that every word the prophet says is God’s truth. There are other Mormons who think that they should only believe the things that are confirmed to them by the Spirit. Which of these categories are the “real Mormons”? Only the most authoritarian would claim that there is an answer. For the rest of us, we have to accept that quite different beliefs coexist in a single institutional structure and a single label.

    In the war on terrorism, our enemy is a violent, authoritarian version of Islam. It’s silly to pretend that this version of Islam is less legitimate or genuine than any other; it’s one interpretation of a set of beliefs, evidently held quite sincerely by those who are on occasion committed enough to carry out suicide attacks in its name. But it’s equally silly to pretend that we aren’t at war against an Islam. This is a religious conflict; it’s a conflict over a religion that claims we have no right to exist.

    Anyway, I join in expressing my sorrow for those directly and indirectly affected by this attack. And in feeling outrage against the attackers and the beliefs that motivate them. 

    Posted by RoastedTomatoes–>

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