July 4: A decade on, the 7/7 legacy

the HEARTBROKEN families of the Tunisia beach massacre which claimed the lives of 38 innocent holiday-makers – including Christopher and Sharon Bell, Claire Windass and Bruce Williams from Yorkshire – will, in time, be able to draw some comfort from yesterday’s impeccably observed minute’s silence.

As the Queen halted a walkabout in Scotland to lead the country in remembrance, play was even delayed at Wimbledon, and other iconic sporting events, so the whole country could show their solidarity and remember all those slaughtered a week earlier by a terrorist affiliated to the so-called Islamic State.

The poignancy was even more palpable in Leeds as the city fell silent on the day that the bodies of Mr and Mrs Bell, a much loved couple, were repatriated with the military solemnity which greeted every British loss during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

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Instead of welcoming the couple back to their Kilingbeck home after a holiday of a lifetime, neighbours stood in solemn silence as they contemplated the tragic turn of events which bought the human misery caused by international terrorism to their very doorsteps.

Here the most profound point of all – just what turns ostensibly ordinary people to become mass murderers – is even more pertinent because of the special events marking the 10th anniversary of the July 7 suicide bombings.

Hope is provided by the country’s mature and measured response to this outrage: Britain’s respectful resilience did not lead to the community divisions intended by the perpetrators and their evil leaders in al-Qaida who orchestrated these bombings. There are many to thank for this, not least those community leaders and imams who have worked tirelessly with young people in Beeston – the district that became synonymous with this tragedy when the identities of the jihadists finally emerged. Without their positive example, even more impressionable people would find themselves in the terrifying grip of ISIS and its affiliates.

And it is a point made by the Bishop of Leeds as he reflects upon the traumatic events of the past decade before concluding that inspiration, rather than education, is key to nurturing Western values in a multi-faith society so young Muslims do not come to resent the British way of life. His question is fundamental to the national debate now underway: “How do we offer our disillusioned young people an alternative world view and lifestyle that captures the imagination, fires up vision and inspires self-sacrifice (in a non-mortal sense)?”

Tragically, the answer is as elusive today as it was 10 years ago when the UK was coming to terms with the full horror of four Muslim terrorists, born and bred on these shores, being prepared to blow themselves up, and kill 52 innocent bystanders, because of their hatred towards the country that they should have been able to call home. Yet, in the wake of recent events, both here and overseas, it is critical to enhancing community relations in a multi-cultural society that shoud be the envy of the world. There is much to ponder in the days ahead.

The road ahead for Tour de France legacy

NOW for the encore. After Yorkshire staged the greatest Grand Départ in Tour de France history, it now falls to Utrecht to match the unforgettable scenes witnessed on the county’s highways and byways exactly 12 months ago. The Dutch city has a very tough act to follow. Not only did Yorkshire’s two stages attract four million spectators – an unprecedented number for this event – but it also helped to motivate a new generation of riders, young and old alike, to use their bikes to explore the great outdoors.

Yet, while the number of cyclists has actually fallen across Britain, Yorkshire is actually bucking this national trend: an additional 5,000 people now ride their bicycles at least once a week compared to 12 months ago when the Grand Départ was hitting top gear. If Britain is to become a healthier nation, the primary objective of the 2012 Olympics when it was awarded by the IOC to London on July 6, 2005, cycling remains integral to the fulfilment of this ambition and the legacy promised by Sebastian Coe.

However, the road ahead will not be a smooth one. There are still concerns over safety, and both motorists and cyclists need to be more respectful towards each other. As a by-product, it is paramount that planning applications submitted to local authorities are cycle-proofed before consent is given by councillors. If greater consideration is given to this at the outset of this process, whether it be safe cycling lanes or bicycle storage facilities at workplaces, the Tour’s legacy will be even more tangible with Yorkshire, once again, leading the charge and others following in this county’s slipstream.