Last week marked five years since the 7th July London transport bombings that left 56 people dead and hundreds more injured, and despite there being no official ceremony of remembrance this year, a poll has found that one third of the British public feels that a memorial service would be the best way to commemorate the disaster in future years.
33% thought a memorial service would be the ‘most appropriate way’ to commemorate the attacks, followed by 30% who feel one minute’s silence would be most apt. And while only four percent think that a concert, often seen as a fitting reminder of a public incident, would be best, a sizeable 21% do ‘not believe that the 7/7 terrorist attacks should be commemorated’ at all.
Tragedy struck on July 7th 2005 when two London Underground Circle line trains and one Piccadilly line service exploded before a fourth bomb was detonated on a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square, all within 60 minutes of each other. The bombings were eventually attributed to four Muslim men, of British Pakistani and British Jamaican descent, who took issue with Britain’s involvement in Iraq. Each boarded their respective forms of transport between 8:50 and 9:40am, carrying homemade bombs in rucksacks. None survived.
For the victims’ families, the commemoration of the incident has been an understandably emotional issue, but the subject divides the wider public as well. While a memorial service is the most popular option across the country, younger people are much more likely to want to remember the day with a solemn, but widespread, one minute’s silence. 39% of 18 to 24 year-olds chose this option compared to 25% of their older counterparts (the over 60s).
However, the younger age group are actually the most willing to countenance remembrance: only 13% of young people feel that 7/7 ‘should not be commemorated’ compared to 26% of the over 60s. And while older people are generally less in favour of a commemoration, those who do support the idea would prefer a memorial service over a minute’s silence – 33% of over 60s compared to 27% of 18-24s prefer this option.
Interestingly, men are less likely to support a commemoration, with 25% saying 7/7 should not be officially remembered compared to just 17% of women. And unsurprisingly, Londoners are the most emphatically behind a commemoration – just 18% did not want a remembrance compared to a high of 26% among Scots.
A permanent memorial to the attack victims was opened in Hyde Park by Prince Charles on July 7th 2009, and it was here that a wreath was placed last week, accompanied by a handwritten note from Prime Minister David Cameron. A Department for Culture, Media and Sport spokesman noted that there had been ‘no formal ceremony this year’ at ‘the request of the families of the victims’.