Manchester bombing vigils held across UK as thousands come together to mourn dead

People of all faiths and background, united by their sadness and hope, attended vigils around the UK

Rachael Revesz
Wednesday 24 May 2017 01:02
People leave tributes to victims of the Manchester concert bomb attack in Albert Square, Manchester
People leave tributes to victims of the Manchester concert bomb attack in Albert Square, Manchester

Thousands of people descended on Manchester’s city centre to honour and remember the scores of victims who were killed and injured in the explosion after the Ariana Grande concert.

They held England flags, and banners – “Love for all and hatred for none” – and signs with the social media hashtag “#ForManchester" and “I heart Manchester”.

Pictures of the vigil showed people of all races and backgrounds, determined to put on a brave face to remember the dead and their families. The demonstrations went on into Tuesday evening as residents lit candles and laid flowers.

Details were still emerging about the attacker, a 22-year-old British man called Salman Abedi, and police are investigating how he obtained the explosive device and gained access to the Manchester Arena.

Waiting for speeches to begin, the crowds clapped three times, in quick succession, chanting “Manchester!”

Political leaders including Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and the Liberal Democrats’ Tim Farron joined Manchester mayor Andy Burnham to pay their respects and address the crowd.

Leaders of all faiths, including Christians, Muslim, Sikhs and Jews, joined them too.

Poet Tony Walsh delivered his poignant and rousing ode to Manchester, This Is The Place.

"In the north-west of England it’s ace, it’s the best / And the songs that we sing from the stands, from our bands / Set the whole planet shaking."

There was a rapturous and defiant applause when he finished reading the poem.

Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings was played.

The Right Rev Dr David Walker, the Bishop of Manchester, addressed the city centre vigil and said the attacker represented “the very few, but we are the many. We are Manchester”.

He spoke of “a unity that has been strengthened by our diversity” and said people who had come to the city from abroad “have become Manchester”.

Vigils took place in many other cities.

In London, two people held an England flag, kneeling on the ground in respect, as a large group of people in Trafalgar Square held a minute’s silence in honour of the victims.

In Liverpool, people laid candles on the ground in the shape of a sign for peace, with flowers and messages scrawled with chalk on the pavement.

In Glasgow, members of the public laid flowers in the city's central George Square.

Prime Minister Theresa May condemned the “cold calculation” of the attacker, who chose to target a packed stadium of young people enjoying themselves at a pop concert.

MI5 said it was working with the police, and the agency's head Andrew Parker claimed the “disgusting” attack had “affected” all of his staff.

Later on Tuesday, Ms May announced the UK's terror threat level had been raised from "severe" to "critical", meaning a new attack is considered imminent.

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