Colin Grainger

Timeless tribute to tragic Shahara Islam – innocent victim of 7/7

It is a small plaque given the significance of the event that still shapes many of our lives.

But on a trip to Tavistock Square recently it was strategically placed enough to catch my eye…and made me stop amidst the workers rushing about their daily lives to pause and reflect on a moment that killed a young East Ender who had everything to live for, and took the lives of other innocents.

Today, 7/7 is the day we remember the tragic victims of the terrorist incidents that changed everyone in Britain for ever.

And looking at all the names on that tribute plaque on the railings on the site of the bus bombing, it shows how many different cultures were affected that day.

Shahara Islam was a modern Muslim, a young woman who loved her handbag and fashionable clothes while at the same time respecting her family’s wishes that she sometimes wore traditional clothes at home.

She would go shopping in the West End but would always be seen at the mosque for Friday prayers. Shahara, 20, was a second-generation Bengali who made her family so proud.

On that fateful Thursday, her usual hour-long tube journey – which took her from the family home in Plaistow, up to Islington’s Angel tube station – was interrupted. Getting off the Tube, she got on the No 30 bus and it was there that her path crossed that of Hasib Hussain, the youngest suicide bomber.

Shahara Islam

One of the survivors of the bus attack told how her friend, Shahara persuaded her to get on the packed Number 30, only to be killed minutes later in the blast. Emma Plunkett also revealed that Shahara sat directly across the bus aisle from suicide bomber Hasib Hussain. She told the inquest that she had suggested to Shahara that they wait until the queues for buses at Euston station had died down.

But Ms Islam, insisted they got on…and found herself sitting next to suicide bomber Hasib Hussain. She was one of 13 people killed when he detonated his device. His  bomb was the fourth to go off on July 7 2005. Four suicide attackers killed 52 people on three London Underground trains and the bus.

A statement from her family at the time paid tribute to a woman who had been at the wrong place at the wrong time. It is as important today as it was eight years ago.

It read: “Today our dear daughter, cause of our joy and light of our eyes – our Shahara is returning to her Lord – an innocent and blood-stained martyr. She was an East Ender, a Londoner and British, but above all, a true Muslim and proud to be so.

“She was a simple girl, from a simple family who led a simple life. Unfortunately she was at the wrong place at the wrong time on that unfortunate day.

“The flame of her life has been cruelly extinguished from this beautiful young woman in her prime, who had the whole world ahead of her.”

So pause when you see that plaque in Tavistock Square in memory and in tribute and keep in mind the most important words. London will not forget them and all those who suffered that day.

Pictures: Newham Recorder, family and Colin Grainger


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This article was written on 07 Jul 2013, and is filed under 7/7 bombings, Communities, community, East London, History, Newham, Plaistow, Shahara Islam, Tavistock Square.

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