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Last night's vigil: 'We are not afraid'

LONDON CALLING: Artwork adorned the pavement at last night's vigil

A SOMBRE yet defiant atmosphere rested upon the the crowd that gathered in Trafalgar Square for a candlelit vigil last night, following the terror attack which shook the capital.

The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan extended an invitation for all to attend the 6pm show of solidarity in remembrance of this week's late victims.

During the opening of the vigil, after a minute’s silence was observed, Mr. Khan addressed the crowd, urging them “to show the world that we are more committed than ever to the values that we hold dear - that we remain united and open”.

He went on to state:

"London is a great city, full of amazing people from all backgrounds. When Londoners face adversity we always pull together ...”

The Deputy Metropolitan Police Commissioner Craig Mackey and Home Secretary Amber Rudd were also present.

Ms Rudd described PC Keith Palmer, who was killed in the attack, as “courageous, brave and doing his duty". She added:

"He was courageous, he was brave, and he was doing his duty [..]. Our response to this attack on our city, on our way of life, on our shared values, shows the world what it means to be a Londoner.”

The stance of many who stood among the crowd, on a crisp Thursday evening, was one of strength and solidarity – a word that echoed often amid the throng.

It was also emotional and deeply distressing for many; one black, Muslim lady was seen to be weeping and passionately declared that “this man does not represent all people of Islam”. She went on to express concern that this terror attack will see all followers of that religion scapegoated by the media and society at large. To that end, there were several campaigners who were compelled to defend Islam, holding placards which read ‘not in my name’, ‘#Iamamuslim’ and ‘love for all, hatred for none’.

One such individual was Xena Hussein, an MA student, who told The Voice:

“This attack has nothing to do with the Islamic values that I was brought up on at all.

“It was important for me to be here, making my voice heard, as a Muslim woman and a woman of colour. Representation and diversity is so important.”

Another attendee said:

“Everybody from all over the world, all ethnicities, communities, tribes, religions come together in London. We must continue to stand together in the face of terror and not let hate divide us.”

Much conversation took place between people from various backgrounds, as street artists adorned the pavement with inspirational and uplifting illustrations in the midst of troubled times.

The general consensus seemed to be hope, pride in diversity and the need for unity now, more than perhaps ever before.

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