The irony of security: a tale of two countries

I’m on my way from a country that has experienced three terrorist attacks in the past few weeks to one that had one awful incident more than a year ago but nothing since. Millions of tourists visit the country I’m leaving, whereas the country I’m visiting has virtually no tourists. There are no warnings about visiting the first country but plenty about the second country. In the first country I go everywhere and never think about security; in the second country I have to stay in one of only three hotels and am advised not to walk anywhere.

The first country is the UK, where I live. The second country is Bangladesh, where I visit regularly and security has been steadily tightened; I used to roam freely in Bangladesh. I can see why people in Bangladesh resent the advised security restrictions on their country’s the governments of countries experiencing many more attacks. Plus Britain has been experiencing terrorist attacks for 40 years: before the Islamic extremists it was the IRA. In Bangladesh the attacks are recent.

Reluctantly I recognise that there is a logic to what seems illogical. London is a huge city, and, although much publicity is given to attacks, my chances of being attacked are small. Dhaka is an even bigger city, but my white skin makes me conspicuous– and the attacks there have been have been on foreigners.

But I set off for Dhaka without any fear just as I have no fear walking the streets of London. This is nothing to do with bravery and all to do with statistics. As a 65 year old man my chances of being killed or disabled by a terrorist attack, in either Lindon or Dhaka, are tiny compared with other causes. That’s comforting.


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