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Web gives vent to anger, sadness over London blasts

On blogs and news sites, people around the world voice a range of emotions, opinions and political commentary.

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In times of tragedy, people have increasingly turned to the Web to share witness accounts, offer support, voice opinion, and debate issues. The London bombings were no exception this week, as people from across the globe logged on to the Web to vent, comfort and seek community.

Through online posts, people in London, the Middle East and around the world voiced a range of emotions, opinions and political commentary.

Among bloggers in London, the overriding reaction to Thursday's bombings was a mix of defiance, determination and pride.

"I didn't want to get on the Tube this morning, but I did, because not to do so would be a small admission of defeat," wrote a contributor to the BBC site in London who identified herself as Lizzie Platt. "London is determined to show the terrorists that they cannot ruffle us. They will not reduce us to terror. I am so impressed and moved by my city's defiance and stoicism, and by the complete absence of panic and hysteria. I am proud to live here, and the people who planted those bombs will see that they cannot intimidate us."

Other global emergencies--including the Asian tsunami disaster and the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.--also drew an outpouring of emotion, opinion and commentary online. Yet media observers noted that this week so-called citizen journalism seemed to gain a new level of legitimacy.

The BBC and The Guardian Web sites encouraged ordinary citizens to post observations in blogs and published the material side-by-side with stories from their staffs. TV stations reportedly ran video clips and photos taken by bystanders with their cell phones.

The result, for many readers, was a fascinating and personal view of the events happening oceans away. For instance, contributors to the BBC site conveyed a sense of shock and fear, acknowledging how vulnerable many Londoners felt in the aftermath of the attacks. Some of the most touching entries were written by teenagers.

"As a 13-year-old Londoner, I also yesterday, like many, went through the horror of worrying about my mum and other members of my family," wrote James Gould. "I was fortunate that they were all fine, I know others were not as lucky as me and my heart goes out to them."

Another London teenager, who identified herself as Razan, worried about a backlash against the city's Muslim community.

"I am a 15-year-old Muslim girl and was on my way to central London but luckily I'm safe," she wrote. "The attacks were horrific, barbaric, wrong and really disgusting. It is unfair because Muslims as a whole will be blamed if al-Qaeda have done it, but we are as upset and condemn these attacks very strongly."

A widespread feeling of gratitude at the orderly response to the disaster from both authorities and fellow citizens was also apparent on the blogs. Some people used them as a way to thank strangers for the kindness showed in a stressful situation.

"Thank you to the kind lady in her MPV running a free shuttle service between Marble Arch and Shepherd's Bush last night," said one anonymous writer in Shepherds Bush. "No fuss, no nonsense--just a sense of humour and the Dunkirk Spirit. Made me proud of my city and proud of my country. It'll take more than this to break the Brits."

The event triggered an online outpouring of support and sympathy from around the globe. Messages from New York and Madrid, two Western cities wrenched by past terrorist attacks, were especially poignant.

"As a Spaniard who lived very closely to the March 11th attacks in Madrid, I wish to express my solidarity to all Londoners who have experienced today the unjustified terrorist attacks that some heartless fanatics had carefully planned for a day which should have been plenty of joy and pride for all U.K. people," Alicia Lorente in Barcelona wrote on The Guardian's blog. "Be strong and keep fighting against fanaticism worldwide."

Not all blog posts were written in a spirit of unity and tolerance, however. "I have just read we in the west spend too much time living in capsules," wrote a Guardian blogger by the name of Fiona. "When any crap that arrives in country arrives, the first thing they do is to make their little capsule of phone shop, internet cafe, special food, they want to be hear becuase we in general are far more tolerant than the other countries (particularly the french) this is our mistake if we beat the sh** out of them (I admit it would be hard work) on a regular basis they would not be going on hunger strike to get hear but to go back. Good bye muslims so nice of you to use our country and the liberalisme of our laws."

Meanwhile, Muslim bloggers expressed a mix of shame, regret and indignation over the attack.

"As a French Muslim I am deeply upset and ashamed by this barbaric attack on London, all my thoughts are with those affected by this horrible event, there can be no justifications, and it is high time now for us Muslims to stand against those who have taken our religion hostage and show the world that we have nothing to do with terror," wrote a BBC contributor in Paris who identified herself as Jasmine.

Other writers, both in the East and in the West, reflected on the political dynamics of attacks, particularly how the U.S. and British-led attack on Iraq figures into the equation.

"I'm sick to the back teeth of terrorism," wrote a contributor by the name of Josh on The Guardian blog. "This time, my family and friends were OK but what about next time? What do other bloggers think about a campaign to get England to follow Spain's example and pull out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It worked for Spain. No more attacks."

"I have one question, what the hell have Bush and Co. been doing for the last few years? Four years fighting that alleged war on terror, making us live hell in the process," the author of the From Cairo With Love blog wrote. "And our Ambassador to Iraq has just been executed today. Boy, do I feel safer now!"

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