Fiaz and Benedetta were to marry. Now he waits, and hopes

By Oliver Duff and Genevieve Roberts
Published: 12 July 2005

One is a born and bred British Muslim, the other an Italian Roman Catholic. They bridged nationalities, languages, religions. They were to marry in Rome in September, until she disappeared last Thursday. She was probably on the Aldgate Underground train.

Now Fiaz Bhatti, a 29-year-old salesman from Norwich, wanders from station to station searching for clues to the whereabouts of his fiancee, Benedetta Ciaccia.

"I spoke to her at 7am last Thursday when she sent me a text," he said. "I know her train arrived at Liverpool Street at 8.40am and she would have caught the Tube to Embankment. We hope she is shocked and lost. We hope someone sees her; that is why we carry on looking."

Mr Bhatti spent the first 11 years of his life in Luton - a "war zone" of tense inter-community relations. He moved to Norwich and three years ago met Benedetta, 30, a business analyst, in Manchester.

"We fell in love," he said, while taping up pictures of her outside King's Cross station. "We believed in different religions but that was never an issue. Both religions essentially teach the same thing: you shouldn't kill, you shouldn't steal, treat others with respect."

Mr Bhatti said the bombings had victims from all walks of life and the perpetrators could not be called Muslim. "We brought together religions, nationalities, languages, we are modern Britons, just a few weeks away from marrying.

"I'm Muslim and she is Catholic but all that mattered was that we loved one another. Just the effort to bring together the families has been enormous. This rips the heart out of this dream. Everyone is looking at Asians and thinking 'terrorists' - it is so stupid. Muslims are not guilty here, some are victims, just like others are. I just want to find Benedetta. Please help."


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