Civic and community leaders gathered in Leeds today to pay their respects to those who lost their lives and suffered terrible injuries in the London bombings of July 7 2005.
They were remembered on the 10th anniversary of one of the UK’s worst terrorist atrocities by a cross-section of representatives of community, civic and religious groups from across Leeds.
The non-denominational event, which was timed to coincide with the national remembrance ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, was led by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Cllr Judith Chapman, and Leeds City Council Leader Cllr Judith Blake.
They both gave speeches outlining how the terrible acts committed by the terrorists who bombed rush-hour tube stations and a bus were entirely at odds with the spirit of community and cohesion in what for some of perpetrators was their home city.
Also giving a speech was Hanif Malik, chief executive of the Hamara Healthy Living Centre in Beeston, who outlined his own feelings about how his local community has come together and been strengthened as it heals from the impact of the tragic events.
Lord Mayor of Leeds Councillor Judith Chapman said:
“We stand in solidarity with the city of London in commemorating these tragic events. 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.”
Leeds City Council’s Leader Cllr Judith Blake said:
“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 a gunman.
She then outlined some of the positive work that has taken place in Leeds to combat extremism, with community and faith groups working collaboratively. She also spoke of her own constructive experiences as a councillor working with children and young people and as a school governor in the south of the city.
Cllr Blake continued:
“People of all faith, 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.”
Hanif Malik, chief executive of the Hamara Healthy Living Centre in Beeston, said:
“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. 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.
Joining the Lord Mayor, Council Leader and Mr Malik at the event were senior officers and councillors from Leeds City Council, Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson and Chief Superintendent Paul Money of West Yorkshire Police, and representatives of the following organisations: Hamara Healthy Living, ASHA Project, Leeds Federated Housing Association, Beeston Forum, Together for Peace, Vera Media, Unity Housing, people from the Muslim, Church of England, Buddhist, Sikh, Catholic and Pentecostal faiths, and a Pagan representative.