Being in Walthamstow during the "terror raids"

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 17 August 2006

With a week gone since Britain was put on a high state of terror alert, it is quite odd to reflect that I flew back to Walthamstow just as it became the centre of what was, briefly, the world's biggest news story.

In my wanderings around the borough I pass several of the houses that were raided, and there is still a large police presence and frequent over-flying by police helicopters in the area.

The equally large media presence, whether fair or foul, in some way seems to have increased the campainging that goes on in the borough. This week, for the first time that I've noticed, the Walthamstow Central area was leafleted about graphic allegations of atrocities in Sri Lanka. The leaflet came complete with some very grisly pictures of dead and injured school children. These were much stronger images than we are used to in the British press, although I've seen similar coverage of massacres like this in the press abroad. It certainly looks just like the kind of material designed to inflame local passions at a sensitive time.

The upside of course, is that on reflection I think I actually prefer my hometown to be best known as London's hotbed of alleged terrorism activity, rather than for it being best known as the birth place of teen boy band E17.

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