As a Londoner I have always felt proud of our multicultural society. There were always problems up North, but I was safe in the knowlage that it would never happen here. Now we have been bombed we as Asians are being turned upon.
I wholeheartedly want to believe that London has remained united, if it ever was, but my experience as a Londoner would say that it has not. We have not.
I take the tube and buses most days and before the attacks it was fine. You sat down, read the paper and just got on with it. Its all changed. When I get on the tube or bus people look at me with furtive glances, they stare, they suspect and they keep away. Every time I go into my bag their bodies tighten as if I am the next suicide bomber coming to get revenge or wage some ill-conceived holy war.
It’s ok for Ken Livingston and other white people to say we are united. I have to admit I am a support of our Mayor but being white means you’re not subject to the visual abuse of people. I want to feel anger but I can’t. How can you blame people when it was Asians that committed this?
The news is filled with comment on how it has affected the Muslim community. I am sure it has, but it’s affected the Asian community more. People do not see Muslim, Sikh or Hindu, they just see Asian, and Asian means terrorist.
On a recent trip to New York I don’t think I saw many if at all any Asians. I pray that London does not follow the same path of passive ethnic cleansing. Talking to friends who have been to the city prior to 9/11 they all said it had a great mix of people and everyone was friendly. Since returning, they refute those claims. My Aunt likened it to ethnic cleansing and a deep sense of mistrust of anyone with brown skin having taken root.
I do not know how we can stop this mistrust. In one way it is reassuring that people are being vigilant, but if it turns to fear, which I feel it is, then the terrorists have won.