Sunday, 4 June 2017

London Bridge and Borough Market

Sue and I were away for most of yesterday, and didn't get home until about 8.00pm. We were both feeling rather tired, and did not switch on the TV news until we were just about to go to bed ... and then were heard and saw what had happened in the London Bridge/Borough Market area of London.

It is an area that I know fairly well. When travelling into London by mainline train, we have to pass through London Bridge Station. It is also one of the bridges that connects the City of London to the south bank of the River Thames, and like many Londoners I have travelled across it numerous times to get from one side of the river to the other.

When incidents like this happen in places one knows, it seems to have an even greater impact upon one's reactions to it. Yet again I am in a situation where I feel powerless to do anything except express my condolences to the families of the bereaved and my heart-felt support for those who have been affected by the incident ... but that is all I can do.

As someone who has spent a large part of their life trying to have a 'Here's a problem; how are we going to deal with it?' attitude, the feeling of not being able to do something to deal with what has happened – and is likely to happen again – is very frustrating ... but I can learn to live with my frustration. That is nothing compared to the sorrow and anger those who have been bereaved must be feeling at this moment, and they are the people that I will be thinking about today.

I understand from the news coverage that one of last night's attackers shouted that what he was doing was being done for Allah. Yesterday morning I took a taxi from the centre of Bristol to the Bristol Masonic Centre in Park Street. After I had told him of my destination, my driver asked about Freemasonry and its origins, and during our conversation it became apparent that he was a Muslim.

Our discussions concentrated upon the building of the King Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem (something that is central to Masonic ritual), and it soon became very apparent that the stories relating to this event as told in the Koran and the Old Testament are almost identical. We ended up having a ten minute-long chat outside the Masonic Centre, and parted in the knowledge that we shared a common religious heritage that unites us far more than it divides us.

This is something worth remembering the next time a perpetrator of an horrendous attack seeks to excuse or justify their actions as being done in the name of their God ... the same God that their victims probably believed in.

38 comments:

  1. "... the same God that their victims probably believed in."

    Unlikely unless they were targeting muslims.

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    1. Nobby,

      My understanding is that the religions followed by Jews, Christians, and Muslims all spring from the same root, hence my comment about them all believing in the same God.

      It may well be that the way each religion names, views, and worships their version of God may be different ... but the origins of their belief start from the same place.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. The name Allah does not appear until 6 or 7th century AD along with Mohammed and his hordes. There is a small possibility that it equates to Elohim but the name of God for Jews and Christians is Yahweh. Islam may claim the same root, it gives credence, but it doesn't.

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    3. Nobby,

      Interesting. I understood that Allah was a diminutive of El Elohim, the Arabic for 'the God', and at the term pre-dated the birth of Mohammed.

      We live and learn.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Sadly, religion is easily taken over by hate - a result that leaves a lot of innocent victims in it's wake.

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    1. Rob Young,

      If you believe in something, it is possible for the unscrupulous to pervert that belief with lies and untruths into something that becomes divisive and hateful. It has happened before, it is happening now, and - if we don't try to break the cycle - it will happen again. Unless we are able to do something, you are right; it is the innocent who will continue to suffer.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. These things are especially sad for those touched by them but affect us all.

      It is not a coincidence that the perpetrators of such acts are almost never well adjusted, well off professionals, executives or even tradesmen etc. A desperate life leads down dark roads.

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    3. Ross Mac,

      Very true. There does seem to be a common set of characteristics that are shared by so many of the perpetrators of these atrocities.

      Many of them seem to have come from ordinary working-class families. During their teens they become disillusioned with the way of life they lead - even if they gain a place in Higher Education - and then move on to become substance abusers/drug addicts who support their habit by becoming petty criminals. As a result they end up serving time in prison, and whilst in prison they became radicalised. They then become extremely religious, and begin to appear on the police/intelligence 'radar' ... but only in the periphery of things.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Do not try to justify any religion or how it can be twisted. It's time to stop being wishy washy on any religion that tries to justify these attacks. Time to get rid of anyone who wants to attack our democratic way of life. I am sick and tired of hearing from those who spout about human rights. Did the victims of this horrendous senseless violence not have rights? They were trying to have a peaceful night out. They did not venture out to kill and make. I am an ex Londoner who has had enough. Whatever they try to tell you Islam is not a religion of peace. Never has been, look up the Muslim Conquest.

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    1. Simon Jones,

      It is not a religion that kills people; it is people who kill people. The latest perpetrators appear to have tried to justify their actions by claiming that they were doing it for Allah. They were not ... as I am sure that most Muslims would tell you.

      You may consider that I have tried to justify what happened in my blog entry. That was not my intention. What I am arguing is that the actions of a few is not sufficient evidence to condemn a whole religion. If I did feel like that, I would have to condemn every religion whose members have committed atrocities at some time in the past ... which is pretty well all of them.

      I am a Londoner, and I also want to see an end to this sort of atrocity on our streets. I am willing to give up some of my freedoms if that will enable that to happen. If we still had capital punishment in the UK, I would be quite willing to pull the lever to execute a terrorist who killed innocent people. But I would still regard the concept of human rights as important and something that is worth protecting. Respect of the rights of others is - in my opinion - a vital part of what makes us British.

      You mention the Muslim Conquest in your comment and suggest that I read about it. I have ... as I have read about the Christian Crusades against Islam, the Christians of Byzantium, and the Albergensians. No religion has clean hands.

      I suspect that you and I will not agree on this topic ... but at least we have the freedom to disagree.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. I condem all religion. Prove to me there is a God or Gods. If there are these deities they must be pretty ambivalent. I have read about the Muslim Conquest. It looks like it's still going on does it not?

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    3. I sympathize with your intentions as it might sound trite for me to say, but I understand, as do most people, that there is good and bad in every group or religion. I know that plenty of Muslims are just as horrified by this terrorism and that in the Middle East they themselves are targeted if they are in the 'wrong' version of their religion.

      On the other hand, and even after also hearing sympathetic interpretations of Islam, I have to say that the perpetrators of these terrorist acts justify them in terms of Islam. Given the contrast between Mohammad's life and J C's life and teachings I am not convinced that the Islamists have 'perverted' their religion. There is plenty of material there, much more so than in the New Testament, that makes instruction to commit violence, to kill apostates and blasphemers and so on and so forth.

      There are a few things that have to be done. jihadists have to be refused re-entry into their adopted Western country. Their citizenship needs to be stripped. Secondly, those who give support to the Jihadists need to be recognized as fifth columnists or foreign agents depending on citizenship and jailed indefinitely. Thirdly, mosques that are implicated in supporting Al Qaeda, ISIL and co. need to be shut down. Fourthly, community police need to be adequately armed rather than being forced to run away, as happened initially. Police should also be able to make a quick decision to shoot anyone with a bomb or anyone holding people hostage as negotiation is pointless. (Unfortunately here in Australia this was not observed with the Lindt Cafe siege and at least one hostage died as a result).

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    4. Simon Jones,

      For ease of communication I call what I believe in 'God', but using that word brings with it a lot of unnecessary baggage, and can be seen by others as me believing in something that I don't. For example, I don't believe in virgin birth, resurrection, transubstantiation, or an afterlife where I have a human-like form.

      I do have belief. I believe that something - be it physics or mathematics or whatever - makes the universe we live in work. I do not believe that whatever makes the universe work is sentient in the way that human beings are. I feel that thinking like that is an example of humans creating God in their image, and not - as the Bible states - that God create man in his image. To me God is not an old man, sitting on a cloud, looking down on humanity and judging us as good or bad.

      Is the Muslim Conquest still going on? In the minds of some Muslims, the answer is 'Yes' ... but that poses the question as to whether or not the imposition of Western-style democratic concepts and way of life on cultures that are not Western and/or Judaeo-Christian in background could also be argued as being an attempt at conquest by stealth.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    5. James James,

      I agree with almost everything that you have included in the last paragraph of your comment. I particularly agree that the police need to be adequately resourced - in terms of numbers and equipment - to deal with the current threat. In the UK I think that the time is coming when a National Police Force needs to be created to deal with threats to national security, but with strong links to local community police forces which is where the basic raw intelligence need to come from.

      At present far too much police time seems to be taken up dealing with social problems rather than crime and security. It is worth noting that some of the police officers who were dealing with aspects of last night's incident (e.g. forming the cordon around the area, escorting people to safety) would have been in that area anyway to deal with the drunks who would have been leaving those self-same bars later that night.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    6. "t is not a religion that kills people; it is people who kill people." and "No religion has clean hands." Isn't this contradictory?

      If you check out the early Hebrew of God made man in his own image you will find that isn't what was written. Literal takes on the Bible and especially on the various early English translations are wide of the mark.
      Judge each religion by its key points.
      There are two laws of the greatest importance in Christianity: Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbour as yourself. Find similar in islam? James James above has it right.
      Islam is not a religion of peace. It has had no renaissance and it has not developed beyond its raw, and questionable, roots.

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    7. Nobby,

      Yes, those quotes appear to be contradictory, but I think that you understand that in the second quote I was trying to point out that few religious groups have not included members who have used violence to further or impose their religious beliefs.

      As the Bible I used as a child was the King James version, I was quoting from my memory of what it said. As it is a translation it is bound to contain inaccuracies, and I accept that this might well be the case.

      As I wrote in a comment some time ago, I think that Islam is in the throws of its own internal reformation, and what we are seeing is not that dissimilar to a modern version of what happened in Europe during the Reformation, with various factions fighting for the supremacy of their particulat version of Islam.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Suffice it to say that we all express our deepest sympathy to the victims of the attack, and that the God of the descendants of Abraham, a lineage common to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam would never endorse such pointless and indiscriminate killing. Certainly the vast numbers of those who have died in the *name* of God, of and by all three religions should have taught us better about where such hatred leads. Surely it is NOT the path to God, but rather the opposite!

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    1. Gonsalvo,

      As ever the voice of reason and sense!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. This evening we'll be eating the beef that we bought in Borough Market on Friday after a pleasant afternoon there. Looking forward to visiting again as soon we can. Excellent cheese too.

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    1. Nigel Drury,

      I hope that you enjoy your beef ... and that you return to Borough Market again in the near future.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. A very dear, and sadly deceased, friend of mine used to say: "In six days God created the world. On the seventh He rested, and the Devil created religion".
    It's a sad fact that more people have been deliberately killed in the name of God than for any other reason.

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    1. Whiskers,

      Your friend's saying makes a lot of sense. One only has to look at conflicts like the Taiping Rebellion - the origins of which lay in a militant religious movement - which resulted in at least 30,000,000 dead (and some estimate it could be three times that number!) to see the truth in what he said.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. Bob, I appreciate your recognition of the recent attacks in our city and Manchester. My day job means that I have colleagues and friends in Manchester. Personally, I live near the Imperial War Museum, so Westminster and Borough are pretty much my neighborhood. I am in both places quite frequently, the attacks have not and will not stop me going about my daily business, but I will be more vigilant. Interns of the other comments, I feel these attacks are little to do with religion or faith. They are just used as an excuse for twisted people to commit acts of terror. History certainly shows that Religion is frequently perverted by evil individuals for their own ends.

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    1. Jon Meech,

      I know the area where you live very well. My maternal family lived in and around the Waterloo area, and I was born in the General Lying-In Hospital just at the southern end of Westminster Bridge. As a child I used to wander the corridors of the old IWM, and I am sure that is where my interest in military history and wargaming first started.

      I agree with your analysis that these attacks are being made in the name of a religion by people who have a twisted and distorted vision of the world, and whose sole goal seems to be to inflict pain and terror on the innocent. May they rot in whatever hell they believe in, whilst the rest of us just carry on living our normal lives as best we can.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Do you remember the long racks of short and long arms. Each one neatly labelled? Also, there were attendants who could tell you about the items on display.
      I go nowadays and recognise it is more modern child 'friendly' but I do wonder if they learn as much from it than we did.

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    3. Nobby,

      I remember it well. In the 1950s many of the warding staff were veterans of the First and Second World Wars, and knew a lot about the exhibits, in some case actually having taken part in the operations depicted and used the weapons that were on display. They were only too pleased to look after and inform a young child who was tottering around the museum on their own.

      Whereas the modern museum is more child friendly and accessible, it seems to have lost that important connection between the staff and the exhibits, and with it the connection between the exhibits and the visitors. Some years ago I took a young relative around the IWM, describing the exhibits as we went around. At one point I was asked by a family if the 'tour' I was taking around was free and where they could book. They were amazed when I told them that I wasn't a member of staff and was just a visitor like them.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  8. Well said, Bob.

    My sympathies and condolences go out to those affected by these terrible acts of violence. I have been to London Bridge and Borough Market, and was sad to see this hit those places.

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    1. Fitz-Badger,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I just wish that I didn't have to write blog entries like this.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  9. The Muslim attitude towards Christians and Jews was that they were 'People of the Book' - i.e. the Bible. Although they set a higher store upon the Quran, they still regard, as I understand it, the Bible as a holy book. At least, this was the attitude of Islam in its early years.

    The tolerance of early times was beaten out of them by the Crusades, the impact of which remains, in Palestine at least, to this very day.

    The UK government is denying that it is its foreign policy that has generated these terrorist attacks at home, and, one observes, they appear to be using them as an excuse to drive further inroads into the personal liberties of British citizens.

    I take as my yardstick of government policy a comment often attributed to Benjamin Franklin:

    "Who would give up freedom for a little security deserves neither the freedom nor the security."

    Even more contemptible, in my view, are those who, to obtain security for themselves, would trade away the freedoms of others. Such has happened in the US, in Australia, and even in my own country.

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    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      My understanding is that most Muslims still regard Christians and Jews as 'People of the Book' that share a common Abrahamic origin.

      Any country's foreign policies must have an internal impact, and to deny that is at best disingenuous. Even a cursory understanding of history supports this contention.

      I can see the validity of the quote from Benjamin Franklin. In time of war - and many people feel that we are in the midst of a low-level war in the UK - there is an expectation that individual liberties need to be sacrificed to ensure an end to that war. The problem arises when the war is over and the loss of those liberties becomes normal and generally acceptable.

      During my travels I have seem the impact of some of the measures countries have introduced to protect their national security. In Morocco the Muslim members of our ship's crew were not allowed ashore to visit a mosque because they could no guarantee that they were not supporters of radical Islamists. In Croatia no crew members from the Indian subcontinent were allowed out of the dock area without a visa, even though they carried internationally-accepted identity documentation. And in pre-Trump USA the Homeland Security staff in Immigration treated everyone as if they were a potential threat to national security, and acted in a very high-handed and rude way.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  10. Cheers Bob,
    Where I work is very multi-cultural
    The sentiment was that these recent acts were terrorism by terrorists with the false pretence of religion
    :(

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    1. Geordie an Exiled FoG,

      Thanks very much for your comment of support. I agree with the sentiment you report in your comment; this was an act of terrorism perpetrated by people with a twisted and perverted view of the world, who tried to 'justify' their actions in the name of a religion that they purported to believe in.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  11. These are not casual religionists.
    They are observant muslims doing prayer five times a day, keeping the dietary and hygiene rules and attending the mosque.
    These are no mean feats and show a level of dedication beyond most people's, of any faiths, ability.
    They sincerely believe that their actions are justified by the Koran. Some imamns tell them they are correct in that belief.

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    1. Nobby,

      I don't know if these particular terrorists were as dedicated to the rituals and faith of Islam as you state in your comment, but I am willing to believe that they were. I am sure that they believed that their actions were justified by the teachings they have absorbed from certain imams.

      That said, I still think that they had a twisted and distorted view of the world that was fed by unscrupulous religious leaders.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  12. Your last sentence is terribly true as seen by our Western eyes, and here they are among us.

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    1. Nobby,

      I just wish that what I had written was not true.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  13. And just when we thought it couldn't be worse, President Dimbulb tweets what is on his excuse for a mind, insulting everyone in sight. I'm certainly not in a position to apologize on behalf of my country, but I will anyway: I am so sorry this jerk occupies the White House. Please don't judge us all by this idiot; even the people who voted for him did so more out of pique and gullibility than evil intent.

    America counts itself fortunate that the UK is and will forever remain both her best friend, and a beacon of decency and courage in a troubled world.

    Chris Johnson

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    1. Chris (Chris Johnson),

      There is no need to apologise on behalf of your country for the things that your President - and his immediate entourage - has said or tweeted over recent days. I am sure that most people in the UK are fully aware of his apparent 'limitations' in certain areas. As to those who voted for him ... well I think that we are also aware that sometimes the choices one has as to whom one can vote for does come down to choosing the least worst option rather than the best.

      All the best,

      Bob

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