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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 10:39 GMT 11:39 UK
Londoners can learn from Madrid
By Danny Wood
BBC News, Madrid

A wrecked train carriage from the Madrid blasts
There was a spirit of defiance in Madrid after the attacks there
For the majority of Londoners, life after the bombs seems to be returning to normality relatively quickly.

But are there lessons to be learned from the experience of Madrid, about the city's recovery in the long term?

More than a year after the train bomb attacks in Spain on 11 March 2004, many of the victims are still receiving medical or psychiatric treatment.

All of them will carry the mental scars of that horrible day for the rest of their lives.

But the city of Madrid returned to normal, at least on the surface, very soon after the atrocity.


The spirit of defiance on display in London was present in Spain's capital from the beginning.

People saw it as a matter of duty to get back to work and pick up where they left off as quickly as possible.

The citizens of Madrid felt supported by hundreds of public demonstrations of unity all over Spain.

Kings Cross Station
Londoners returned to work straight away

On building sites, in offices and at schools, people marked minutes of silence to respect the victims or marched on their streets to promote solidarity and peace.

The constant discussion of the atrocity among friends and incessant coverage by the media also had something of a cathartic effect.

For many Spaniards, the lingering fear of another attack was reduced by the new government that won elections three days after the train bombings.

The withdrawal of Spain's troops from Iraq helped a lot of people to feel safer and no longer such a prominent target for international attacks.


Meanwhile, big public events allowed the city to look forward.

The pomp and ceremony of Prince Felipe's wedding, two months after the attacks, allowed Madrid to indulge itself again.

And the bid for the 2012 Olympics encouraged the citizens here to look to the future.

But the lasting memory of the shock of the 11 March atrocity still carries a sadness for every person here, and in some ways the impact of those bombings has changed the political and social fabric of Spain forever.

There is the unsettling realisation that large-scale attacks on Europe's cities are likely to continue.

Londoners, like the people of Spain's capital, will probably find a return to complete normality rather elusive.

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