THE terrorist atrocities in London have been widely condemned as an act of obscene depravity and, rightly, the thoughts and prayers of the nation go out to the victims of these wicked acts.
However the tragedy must not be the catalyst for attacks on Britain's Muslim population, who, of course, were as likely to be caught up in the indiscriminate carnage of London's tube and bus bombs as anyone else. Nor in the strained aftermath of this very predictable outrage should Parliament rush through
draconian emergency legislation simply aimed at "reassuring the public".
History shows that headline-catching "crackdowns" actually help terrorist groups by creating a siege mentality among the community perceived to be sympathisers. What is needed is eternal vigilance by us all, plus a meticulous, patient approach to policing, surveillance and intelligence gathering.
One positive aspect of last week's outrages is that, so far at least, press, public and politicians have eschewed jingoistic and inflammatory statements and headlines that characterised the Anglo-Irish conflict in the 70s, 80s and early 90s.
Now, as citizens and voters, we appreciate that the London outrage is not the fault or responsibility of our Muslim friends and neighbours – just as, belatedly, the realisation dawned that Britain's large and well integrated Irish population did not support IRA violence.
Paradoxically, the one phrase that has not appeared in relation to last Thursday is "mindless violence." For nowadays, we all understand that the attacks launched on the very day of the start of the G8 summit were a very political act indeed in much the same way as the "shock and awe" bombing of Baghdad and the killing of innocent men, women and children in Fallujah.
Ultimately, a British government will withdraw its support for George Bush's policy of prosecuting a ‘war on terror' in Iraq. But that should be despite last week's atrocity, not because of it.