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Unity love and solidarity after the Arena attacks

8th Jun 2018
Unity love and solidarity after the Arena attacks

Flowers are placed in St Ann’s Square, Manchester city centre in tribute to the victims of the Manchester Arena attack (Photo: Behlul Cetinkaya/AA)

Afzal Khan MP

The detonation of an improvised explosive device by Salman Abedi at the Manchester Arena was the worst terrorist attack in the UK after the London bombings in 2005. Nothing could have prepared us for the tragedy of young people being targeted in such a heinous crime. I cannot imagine the depths of pain of those families, whose lives have been changed forever since the attack on May 22, 2017.

It should have been a night of joy for the many young fans of Ariana Grande. Instead, their evening of excitement ended in tragic loss and devastation.

It is a reminder to us all as we commemorate the first anniversary of the Manchester Arena attack.

The 22 people who were killed that night, and the many hundreds who were injured in an act of nihilism and hate, were going about their everyday lives. Terrorism strikes at the ordinary. Our normal state of being. It tries to cower us, threaten our daily routines and instil fear so that we adjust, change, and ultimately, give in to the fear.

My city of Manchester displayed unique courage in the aftermath of the Arena attack. From the mosques who opened their doors and welcomed Mancunians of all backgrounds to collective prayer, to the thousands of people who raised funds for the victims and their families spurred by the campaign of our local paper, the Manchester Evening News, to the One Love Manchester concert.

Whether it was the bravery of our emergency services who risked their lives to get others to safety, the taxi drivers who worked late hours to see that people got home to their worried families, or the doctors and nurses who worked extra shifts in the city’s hospitals and infirmaries tending to the wounded. The spirit of togetherness, of common grief and common resolve, was palpable. Manchester refused to give in to hatred.

Our message to the UK and the rest of the world rang out loud and clear: we won’t embrace hatred and we will not allow terrorists, whatever their motivation, to spread fear and division amongst us. Not in this city.

It was our communities in Manchester – all of them together – who led the way in proclaiming a message of unity and solidarity after the Arena attacks. It made me so proud of my city to see its residents respond with such an outpouring of love. It is the most effective message to send to terrorists.

Afzal Khan is Member of Parliament for the Manchester Gorton

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