Muscat: “It’s a tragedy of our time,” said Maggie Jeans, a British expat living in Muscat, as she expressed shock and outrage over the attacks which took place yesterday, only yards from the House of Parliament on London’s Westminster Bridge.
It is a sentiment that has been echoed by many British expatriates who live and work in the Sultanate of Oman.
According to reports, at around 6.40pm (Oman time), a man in a grey Hyundai ran down about a dozen pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge and then crashed into railings close to the Houses of Parliament.
He was then seen running through the gates of the Westminster Palace and stabbed a 48-year-old police officer Keith Palmer, before being shot at by armed officers. A total of five people including the attacker and the policeman were confirmed dead in the attack, in addition to another 40 injured.
London Metropolitan Police are yet to confirm the identity of the attacker and have not revealed if he was affiliated to a terrorist organization. However they have said the suspect was ‘inspired by international terrorism’.
Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the attack and said it was ‘sick and depraved’. "The location of this attack was no accident," she said in a statement.
“It’s shocking, very tragic and really really sad. It’s probably a lone wolf copycat following Nice and Berlin, that kind of similar style, he is perhaps a lone individual, that’s just prediction though, and they don’t know enough about him yet to know if he is affiliated to any terrorist organization,” added Jeans, a recipient of the Order of the British Empire who’s been living in Oman for the past 26 years.
“The last terror attacks were in 2007 in the London underground, and we have been very lucky not to have anything in the intervening years,” she added. “To see innocent bystanders getting attacked and Westminster Bridge gets caught up in this sort of thing. However at the end of the day like the Brits say, we have to keep calm and carry on as everywhere else, and the rest of Europe.
“There will be an enormous fallout, with heightened security in London, inconveniences for people, the tourism and economy will be affected as well, but the real question is what could have been done to prevent this attack,” ventured Jeans.
Anastasia, a British expat living in Oman who works at Qarat Al Milh Petroleum said, “I heard about the attacks yesterday from my family here and in the UK, they messaged me. I am really appalled at the brutality of the attack, and my heart goes out to the people and the families affected.
“One of the most important aspects is that I hope it’s not going to be used to feed further anti-Islamic rhetoric as the attack has been commented on by the mainstream media as being influenced by International Islamic terrorism when actually the motives of the attacker have not been identified so far. Overall I hope that root causes of such incident can be unidentified and addressed so there will be an end to these bouts of violence,” she added.
Marion, another British expat in Oman said that the attacks were awful and shocking, “It’s shocking, I am appalled, it’s so tragic and awful, whatever has happened.”
Eva Stanley Jones, a PR consultant in the Sultanate added, “As an expat living in Oman we are so blessed to live in a peaceful country. During such turbulence worldwide we should stick together in unity and not allow such events to cause a divide. Our strength lies in our humanity.”
Boris Johnson, UK’s Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and a Member of Parliament write on Twitter that the attack was ‘Heartbreaking’, “Heartbreaking. This is not the first attack on London or our Parliament - and won't be the last - but our values will prevail,” he said.