Tears and Unity at Multi-faith Vigil for Victims of London Terror Attack
LONDON—A riverside vigil in the British capital on Monday to honor the victims of the London Bridge terror attack stood as a moving testament to unity and a powerful statement of the diversity embraced by Britian’s open society. Buddhist monks stood alongside Muslim clerics, Jewish and Christian leaders, and representatives of communities from all segments of London society to remember those who lost their lives just two days earlier.
Eight people were killed and 48 were injured last Saturday evening when three men drove a van into crowds of pedestrians on London Bridge, before alighting and attacking people with knives in nearby Borough Market. Of the 29 people still being treated in hospitals around the city, 10 remain in critical condition. The tragic incident marks the third attack by extremist militants in the UK in a little more than three months, coming just days after 23 people were killed and 119 injured in the Manchester Arena suicide bombing on 22 May, and the 22 March attack at London’s Westminster Bridge, in which four pedestrians were killed and 50 injured by a lone driver, who also stabbed and killed an unarmed police officer near the Palace of Westminster.
Hundreds gathered solemnly along the River Thames, a short walk from London Bridge, to observe a minute’s silence in remembrance of the dead in a memorial ceremony that was attended by Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, and led by London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a major Western capital. “Today we mourn the loss of innocent lives,” Khan told the assembly. “Londoners and people from around the world, we send our love to the victims’ families and to all those who were injured. And we thank our courageous emergency services and the brave Londoners who risked their lives to care for others, you are the best of us.”
Speaking on behalf of London’s “alarmed and concerned” Muslim communities, Metropolitan Police Commander Mak Chishty observed, “Terrorism and extremism is hurting Islam. Muslims must do more to stop such attacks from happening again and we want to know how we can play a greater role in the future.” (International Business Times)
One of the vigil’s organizers, Qari Asim, an Imam from Makka Mosque in the northern city of Leeds, noted: “It is really important that we stand together—this is the third attack in the last three months. Each attack is an attack on our home, on all of us—these terrorists are trying to undermine our shared values. We want to send out a loud and clear message to wannabe extremists and to terrorists that Britain is our home and there is no distinction between being Muslim and British. Simply, we are tired of hearing the news of our fellow Britons being injured, tired of grieving for our neighbors.” (Christian Today)
People of all faiths and all ages stood shoulder to shoulder with senior police officers, and representatives of the London Ambulance Service, the London Fire Brigade, and civic and community leaders. Tearful attendees offered candles and floral tributes, and held aloft signs and messages expressing such shared sentiments as “United against extremism,” “Hate will not divide us,” “Stand up to racism,” and “Choose love.”
“I invite all Londoners and everyone visiting our city to come together in solidarity to remember those who have lost their lives. To express sympathy with their families and loved ones, and to show the world that we stand united in the face of those who seek to harm us and our way of life,” London’s mayor exhorted.
“Our unity and love for one another will always be stronger than the hate of the extremists,” Khan stated emphatically, underscoring the gathering’s message of solidarity in diversity based on love and mutual respect.
Hate will not divide us: Londoners of all faiths come together to condemn terror attack (International Business Times)
London attack vigil honours the dead and unites capital against terrorism: 'We will never be broken' (Independent)
Thousands gather at poignant vigil for London Bridge terror attack victims (Evening Standard)
London attack: Crowds gather for vigil to honour victims (BBC)
Tears, applause and interfaith unity as 200 imams visit scene of London Bridge terror attack (Christian Today)
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