7/7: Newham MPs share their memories of terrorist attack

A Police officer lays flowers near the scene of the bus explosion in Tavistock Square. Picture: Stev

A Police officer lays flowers near the scene of the bus explosion in Tavistock Square. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA Archive - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Images

Ten years ago today, 52 people were killed in the 7/7 London bombings.

Lyn Brown MP

Lyn Brown MP - Credit: Archant

Newham MPs Lyn Brown and Stephen Timms share their opinions on the anniversary of the tragedy that left an unforgettable scar on the capital and rocked the wider world.

Lyn Brown, Labour MP for West Ham

We all remember what we were doing on July 7 10 years ago. I was puzzling over which route to use to get to work: car or tube. I decided in favour of the car and soon found myself on gridlocked streets, trying to get into Parliament to talk to ministers and hear from the home secretary.

Shahara Islam, of Plaistow, was not as lucky as me. She perished that day, on her way to work. It was a terrible, senseless waste of a very promising life.

East Ham MP Stephen Timms

East Ham MP Stephen Timms - Credit: Archant

Shahara was a beautiful, 20 year old Muslim who worked at a bank in the City. Her family and friends described her as an outgoing woman, who attended mosque, was thoroughly modern and made friends easily: an “Eastender, a Londoner and British.”

When the Tube network went down, Shahara got on the number 30 bus and, it is believed, sat next to the 18-year-old suicide bomber Hasib Hussain. Thirteen people, including Shahara, were murdered when he detonated the device.

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It was a heinous crime.

I know that our community was deeply affected, even traumatised, by the indiscriminate violence unleashed on our city. But I also remember getting on the Tube the day after. I sought out seats next to anyone who looked like they were Muslim. I wanted to show solidarity. I wanted to show confidence in our joint humanity. There was not a seat vacant, because other commuters had the same idea. We were not, and will not, be divided by the sickening actions of a few.

Together, we have fought to retain and sustain our strong communities. As we remember those who died, and share condolences with their families, long may that spirit thrive among us.

Rest in peace, Shahara.

Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham

The first week of July 2005 was unforgettable. In the recent general election, Tony Blair had led the Labour Party to an unprecedented third successive election victory. It was the best of times and the worst of times.

On Wednesday, July 6, the International Olympic Committee met in Singapore to choose the location of the 2012 Olympics. Everybody thought that the Games would go to Paris. Impressed, however, by a lively group of young people from Langdon School, the Committee chose east London instead. A huge crowd outside Stratford Station erupted in joyous celebration.

The following morning, I was due to accompany Prince Charles to watch young people showing their vocational skills at the ExCel Centre. I arrived at St James’ Palace, ready to depart – but the visit never took place. The terrible grim news of the bombs came through while we were waiting. A Muslim woman from Plaistow was among those killed.

The awful shock hit our community hard. In one of the best responses, Ms Gowri Pillai set up “Bridge Builders for Unity”. It has organised a series of events, including on and close to the 7/7 anniversaries, bringing together young people in Newham from different faith backgrounds.