On the Tenth Anniversary of the 7 July Bombings

Ten years ago four bombs killed the following people at these locations:


  • Lee Baisden (34)
  • Benedetta Ciaccia (30)
  • Richard Ellery (21)
  • Richard Gray (41)
  • Anne Moffat (48)
  • Fiona Stevenson (29)
  • Carrie Taylor (24)

Edgware Road:

  • Michael Stanley Brewster (52)
  • Jonathan Downey (34)
  • David Graham Foulkes (22)
  • Colin William Morley (52)
  • Jennifer Vanda Nicholson (24)
  • Laura Webb (29)

Russell Square:

  • James Adams (32)
  • Samantha Badham (35)
  • Phillip Beer (22)
  • Anna Brandt (41)
  • Ciaran Cassidy (22)
  • Elizabeth Daplyn (26)
  • Arthur Frederick (60)
  • Emily Jenkins (24)
  • Adrian Johnson (37)
  • Helen Jones (28)
  • Karolina Gluck (29)
  • Gamze Gunoral (24)
  • Lee Harris (30)[9]
  • Ojara Ikeagwu (56)
  • Susan Levy (53)
  • Shelley Mather (25)
  • Michael Matsushita (37)
  • James Mayes (28)
  • Behnaz Mozakka (47)
  • Mihaela Otto (46)
  • Atique Sharifi (24)
  • Ihab Slimane (24)
  • Christian Small (28)
  • Monika Suchocka (23)
  • Mala Trivedi (51)
  • Rachell Chung For Yuen (27)

Tavistock Square:

  • Anthony Fatayi-Williams (26)
  • Jamie Gordon (30)
  • Giles Hart (55)
  • Marie Hartley (34)
  • Miriam Hyman (31)
  • Shahara Islam (20)
  • Neetu Jain (37)
  • Sam Ly (28)
  • Shayanuja Parathasangary (30)
  • Anat Rosenberg (39)
  • Philip Russell (28)
  • William Wise (54)
  • Gladys Wundowa (50)

Many more were injured, and those who lived through the attacks will never forget their horror, any more than survivors of IRA bomb attacks in an earlier period will forget them.

Such violence isn’t new. Every time we read of some further outrage perpetrated by IS, Boko Haram or any other terrorist group, we ask ourselves whether humanity can sink any lower, but we know we can. We call our species homo sapiens, but we might with equal truth have named ourselves homo vastans. We are destroyers. Denying the violence within ourselves is to deny part of the truth of ourselves; but acknowledging our own violence, actual or potential, how does that help when confronted with such brutal acts? I think it helps in three ways.

First, it helps us make a connection with the perpetrators we might find impossible otherwise. We need to recognize that human beings like ourselves are capable of such wickedness. Otherwise we demonise them, reduce them to less than human status and so close off from them, and perhaps from ourselves too, the possibility of conversion of heart, metanoia in the biblical sense, and ultimately, redemption. That matters, because we cannot have two classes of being: human and sub-human. We are one human race, inhabiting one earth, but when faced with such hostile acts, we tend to forget that. Rage and the desire for revenge cloud our vision. All the more reason, then, to make the effort to recognize our shared humanity.

Second, by recognizing that the perpetrators are human like ourselves, we open the way to forgiveness. Forgiveness sets us free, as well as the other. We are not everlastingly bound together by violent deed and violent reprisal — either acted out or poisoning minds for generation after generation. But have you also considered that forgiveness, by breaking the chain of action and reaction, also denies the other victory? They can kill, but they cannot conquer. No matter how much death and destruction they inflict, they can never make the one who forgives completely subject to their will. Denying those who seek to harm us what they most crave — power over us — is to assert our essential dignity as human beings and our belief that love is more powerful than hatred. Our forgiveness affirms that there is only one true form of martyrdom, only one way of really witnessing to the holiness of God — and it is not by murdering the innocent.

Third, admitting our own propensity to violence helps to unite us with the victims of these terrible attacks. We can identify with them imaginatively, knowing what we ourselves are capable of (one of the roots of the word ‘violence’ has as its meaning, ‘to make vivid’). Their suffering, their death, has meaning which is not erased by time or the shifting political alliances of the world in which we live. It has a greater and more lasting significance than we often express when we say, ‘They won’t be forgotten.’ However obscurely, their deaths are linked with the death of Christ on the Cross. He is the Victim who makes sense of every act of victimisation. His death somehow encompasses the deaths of all others, invests them with meaning, redeems them from meaninglessness.

So, let us pray for the repose of the souls of those who died on 7 July 2005, including the suicide bombers responsible for the bomb attacks. Let us pray for those who were badly injured, those who mourn the loss of someone they love, and those who had to deal with the aftermath and still suffer. Above all, let us pray for ourselves, that we may learn to live with one another in peace and charity. The alternative is too dreadful to contemplate.