Sunday, July 17, 2005

The media interest and the inspirational Fergal Keane

I was determined to remain anonymous with the diary,( it was meant to be 'anyone's story' and I cannot think of anything more stupid than wanting to be a 'celebrity') so I was wary of media requests.

But I could also see that the story seemed to have taken on a life of its own, and was helping people to understand what had happened. The bombs had exploded underground; many people use the tube and could imagine my experience as their worst nightmare - a hundred feet below, the choking smoke, the terror, the screams of the dying. Yet there was no camera-friendly moment of destruction as in 9/11. And 54 people were dead. 700 injured. Many more very frightened. U.K Muslims began to fear the backlash, and attacks against people and Mosques began to happen.

I turned down most requests, but I remained hugely impressed with the BBC so agreed to do a short interview for the BBC World Service, which has an Islamic audience of a million and talk to its News programme which also goes out in Arabic translation. I wanted to let people know that I was not angry at Muslims, that I understood that the Bible, Qur'an and Torah could be interpreted to fit many political and personal agendas but that all of these holy books talked of the sanctity of life, the need to look after each other. I wanted to say how I and others understood that these attacks were not Islamic in the true sense of the word.

Fergal Keane, a wonderful multi-award winning journalist and a man I had admired for years for his reports on South Africa and the Rwandan genocide then got in touch and wanted to film me for the BBC News at 10, a week after the bombs. I agreed provided I remained anonymous and was known only as 'Rachel'.

The report he made on the London Vigil was as good as I hoped it would be and Fergal was inspirational. ( Click on the top right audio/video link , then select 'see the Vigil for London bombing victims'/ ' Vigil scene s from Trafalgar Square'') to watch the Fergal Kene report).
We talked for nearly 2 hours, whilst we waited for his cameraman Fred to join us in the Dorchester hotel and the interview was 10 minutes or so, edited for the BBC to a short but powerful clip. He told me I was a writer, and that I must keep writing. It is because of him, and the BBC News website team that I have started this blog.

I also agreed to read extracts of my diary for BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House, a superb news and current affairs programme that goes out at 91m-10am on Sunday morning ( and is much admired by my mother and partner's mother!) I've just finished listening to it and it was very moving and thought-provoking, especially the brave, dignified Iraqi doctor. 'We are a civilised people' he said, passionately. If he can cling to civilised values whilst treating the bombed and maimed and dying - including little children - every single day, so can we, damn it. So can we.


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