Kashmiri Anxiety Over UK Attacks
11 July 2005
Muzaffarabad: Pakistani Kashmiris who have relatives in the UK fear that their families may be at risk from a possible anti-Muslim backlash following the London bombings. 'Community relations in England have been very good but we fear that Muslims may suffer now,' said one lawyer whose family lives in Britain. About one-fifth of the 750,000 Pakistanis in England live in London and 75% are of Kashmiri origin. More than 50 people died in the bomb attacks on 7 July. Agonising 'We were traumatised by the news of the bombings,' Samra, a resident of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, told the BBC. I hope everyone understands that terrorists have no religion Chaudhry Masood Samra's brother, Kamran, has been in London for more than 13 years. 'We desperately tried to call Kamran but were told that the telephone lines were completely jammed,' says Samra. 'In our anxiety, we turned to the TV but the images only disturbed us more.' Samra managed to make contact with her brother an agonising half hour later but others had to wait much longer. Chaudhry Masood, a resident of Mirpur in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, was desperately worried about his brother. 'I cannot describe my agony as I waited for news of my brother who lives in Hounslow,' he says. Muslims say community relations in the UK have been good It was not until late on Friday night that he finally got a call from his brother. Communication problems for families were worsened by a fault in the undersea optic fibre cable that links Pakistan to the rest of the world. Pakistan's telecommunications were operating at only half their capacity when the London bombings took place. But while most of the families have been assured of the immediate safety of their loved ones, they seem to be quite unsure of what the future holds for them. Mr Masood fears that his family in London is in for a tough time. 'There are many people there who believe that the attacks were carried out by Muslims, so there may be some backlash. 'I hope everyone understands that terrorists have no religion.' Yasin Khan, a lawyer from Mirpur, is among the few who does not fear a backlash. 'Our people have been working with the majority community and will continue to do so,' he says. 'Such acts are aimed at dividing the communities but I am confident that they will not fall prey to the conspiracy.'