Fear in the City: A response to terrorism

By Georgia Sanders

It’s a tense time to be in London. It’s a tense time to be in any city right now. No, scratch that, it’s a tense time to be a human. (Or an Orca, but that’s a blog for another day).

Today, I was waiting for a train. A Northern Line tube train, to be precise, from King’s Cross to Angel. I was running late and didn’t fancy the walk, don’t judge me.

Standing on a platform crowded with tourists and Londoners, the LED sign emblazoned in a bright yet muddy orange the news that the next Morden train would be along in 2 minutes. As the sound of its wheels churning along the metal tracks came into focus to my left, it was over-shadowed by another noise. A man’s voice, that sounded like Siri – calm and robotic.

“All passengers please leave the station due to a reported emergency.”

An alarm sounded. You know the type, the weirdly serene fire alarms they installed in schools about ten years ago to replace the abrasive, clanging metal ones. It took us passengers a moment to register what was being said. I clicked the button on my headphones, pausing Stevie Wonder’s Stevie Ray Blues jam, and pulled the bud from my ear, looking upward as if to see the source of the ominous voice. The message repeated.

“‘Am I above the station?’ my inner monologue panicked. ‘If there’s a bomb under me, will it be powerful enough to kill me?'”


 

“All passengers please leave the station due to a reported emergency.”

It was clearer in my mind, the second time around. The train had stopped and opened its doors, and the crowd looked to one another, uncertain of whether to get on. Some jumped into the carriages, but I, like many others, took to the escalators.

A deathly silence hushed over the swarm of people making their way as swiftly as possible to the exits. My stomach flipped as I moved quickly through the doors and on to King’s Cross Square. I could hear sirens. “Am I above the station?” my inner monologue panicked. “If there’s a bomb under me, will it be powerful enough to kill me?”

Eventually Twitter revealed the situation. Someone had pulled the fire alarm in the station. Whether purposeful or not, it’s not yet known. I was relieved for a minute or two. And then, I was angry.

 

Yesterday, there were bombings in Brussels, killing 31 people, and injuring over 100 others. Daesh has claimed responsibility, yet again. We’ve already seen attacks in Paris, Ankara, Istanbul, to name a few.

Sidebar: These terrorists are not Muslims. They are simply murderers, using a thin veil of religion in order to slaughter innocent men, women and children. To cast aspersions on a faith based on the actions of a few is downright unconscionable, and if it is your opinion that the Islamic faith is to blame for any of these horrific acts, then you are wrong. And perhaps this blog is not the place for you.

I am angry because I am being held hostage by my own fear at the hands of cowards. Caught amidst an ongoing battle between prejudices and the persecuted, whilst terrorism lurks beneath the surface – in my mind, rubbing its hands together and emitting a cartoonish evil-laugh at the division it has succeeded in causing.

 

I am angry because I was afraid to go about my daily business because of the actions of a few – much like so many others in big cities.

I am angry at the legions of people crying “close the borders” and “blame the refugees”, and I am angry at certain media outlets giving inches, and therefore a platform, to these abhorrent, spiteful creatures.

I am angry at the complete lack of understanding from too many. If we are this scared in our country, where the peaceful are many and the security is strong; if we are this scared in a city where checks and response times keep attacks an unlikely occurrence – just how scared do you think those are whom are fleeing from their homes with nothing but clothes and mobile phones? Those whose countries are all but destroyed in pursuit of a non-existent ideology and a thirst for chaos and downfall?

“if we are this scared in a city where checks and response times keep attacks an unlikely occurrence – just how scared do you think those are whom are fleeing from their homes with nothing but clothes and mobile phones?”


Just how scared do you think a Syrian refugee must be to get in a rubber dinghy in an attempt to cross the sea, unsure of whether he’ll survive. Unsure of whether he’ll have safety on the other side. Unsure of whether he’s left everything he knows, loves and owns behind just to be sent straight back to the debris of a city he once loved, once laughed in. To be afraid every moment of every day, the way that I was when I heard that alarm. All because of a group of evil, twisted, murderers.

Now do you understand?

It’s a tough time to be in a city right now?
It’s a tough time to be a human right now.

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