I didn’t believe my mum when first told me she had booked a holiday to Egypt. This is the lady who was worried when I got a job at Bluewater because she thinks there is bound to be a terrorist attack there. She doesn’t want me going to London, or even to an airport because of the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘maybes’. I never listen to her of course, because I don’t live around the what ifs, but I don’t think I’d be as brave as to pack my belongings and head off the Egypt, a religiously divided country, with conflict just around the corner. It was definitely a country I associated with plane hijacking, bombs exploding, terrorist attacks on the innocent, because that is what the media tells us.
Unashamedly, as her departure date got closer my worries became more dominant, I think hers did too, and we used humour as a defence mechanism.
“Mum if (not when) you come back from Egypt can you take me to such and such”
“Mum if you come back and don’t get blown up can you buy me something”
She joined in too. She even called me into her room to tell me where all the important things were, and even walk me through her will.
“If you find my body, I’d like to be cremated, but I wouldn’t worry too much because I might already be blown into smithereens.”
At least, I think this was a joke, it was a way of talking about the unimaginable, because I guess we felt the country was so dangerous that we had too.
But the truth is… it isn’t a joke. Terrorism is not a joke.
Just before 3pm on Wednesday 22nd of March, while Mum was in Egypt, 5 innocent lives were taken by an Islamist extremist mowing down passers-by on a bridge, and brutally stabbing a police officer to death.
But this didn’t happen in Egypt. This happened in London. Her own home town. The capital of her own country.
Although it was a tragic lesson, I really learned something that day. Terrorism is not subject to place, or religion or people. Terrorism is Terrorism. Is a brutal act of mass murder to anybody, anywhere. I learnt that I was no safer here in England than my mother in Egypt, my cousins in France, or my friends in America.
When my mum arrived home apart from telling me what an amazing time she had in a really beautiful and unique country, she really emphasised how safe she felt. She said the airport is privately owned and the security is like no other. Check after check, much more thorough than the security at our own airport. She said the hotel was safeguarded and there was nothing dangerous to be seen.
But the people there were desperate.
They couldn’t do enough for my mum, she so much as sneezed, and a box a tissues were there in front of her. She woke up each morning to her usual breakfast and drink waiting for her, the staff and the people of Egypt couldn’t do more to make their guests happy.
Their very, very few guests.
In Egypt their whole economy is built on tourism, and because of terrorism the people are suffering terribly. They have hardly any guests and a very small income to feed families because of the selfish horrific acts of a couple of low life individuals.
After the London attack, the return to normality was so motivating. Terrorism won’t stop our lives. We were clear, but lets stand by our neighbours in other countries and continue travelling to these beautiful places and not stop their lives either.
Just because you’re in an unfamiliar country doesn’t make you more subject to terrorism than it does being in your home town.
Go travelling. See things. Be brave. Do everything you can until you feel there is nothing left to see. And don’t let terrorism stop you. Do more than go to work, go further. That’s how to say screw you; terrorism.