On 11th September 2001 and 11th March 2003 two cities were hit by terrorist attacks. I had never been to any of the two cities and therefore no matter how much grief and solidarity I felt with what was happening I could not feel as involved as today. Today, London, that great metropolis which for so long in my childhood was the symbol of non-socialist freedom, has been hit. My first holidays abroad were to London. I remember my childhood fascination with anything from Nelson on his column to the Gypsy Moth in Greenwich. Russel Square is where I used to stay on recent visits and where I researched my LL.D thesis. The tangibility of the place where the attack took place makes the terrorist attack more personal.
There are only two countries for which I would feel such affinity. One is the UK (and particularly London) and the other is Italy. Due to my upbringing it is as though the terrorist bombs were unleashed on a Maltese yellow bus and not on a double decker. The shock and outrage is much greater than any I felt before.
Words can only say so much. This dreadful day for the great metropolis comes a day after the scenes of joy for the success of the Olympic bid. It comes while the great leaders are assembled for the G8 summit (and might shock them into some sense for the need of unity).
We may have had some hesitations about the project of European (Ed. added later) unity but now, more than before, it is clear that the time for delaying is over.
Hatred will not wait for anyone before it rears its ugly head again. The distance and misunderstanding between civilisations could be growing.