LONDON — As Big Ben rang 4 p.m. on Sunday, dozens of women who had formed a human chain on Westminster bridge fell silent for five minutes.
Participants in the vigil, organised by Women’s March on London, held hands in silence, to remember victims of the terror attack on the capital last week, which killed four and left at least 50 injured.
Many of the people holding hands were from different backgrounds and were wearing blue — as a sign of hope.
A group of Muslim women spoke of the “overwhelming” emotion they felt when standing on the bridge, and explained that they wanted to stand defiant in the face of terrorism.
“The feeling of what happened here on Wednesday was really strong,” Afriha Khan, a GP from Surbiton, told Press Association. “We thought of the ordinary people who were here and were mown down, standing here like this, it was very overwhelming.”
Being present for the demonstration showed people in the city are united in support of democracy, added Ayesha Malik. “As a visible Muslim I think it was important to show solidarity with the principles that we all hold dear, the principles of plurality, diversity and so on.”
The people present at the vigil seemed to have one definitive message: That people in the UK would stand united in the face of terrorism.
“It was so quiet and impromptu; just for a moment everyone was still,” Rev Anna Macham, of St Philips, Camberwell, who attended the event after being told of it by a Muslim friend, said to the Guardian. “It was very emotional. I was so shocked by events this week and I wanted to stand alongside my Muslim sisters and show that what unites us is greater than what divides us.”
Part of the action was also to “reclaim” the bridge from the horrors of last week’s attacks, Akeela Ahmed, an activist who helped organise the gathering, told the Guardian. “It’s important that we say terror will not defeat and divide us and pay respects to those that died. Keith Palmer is a hero and we are marking our respect for him and all the emergency services who protect us.”
“It’s important that we say terror will not defeat and divide us and pay respects to those that died. Keith Palmer is a hero and we are marking our respect for him and all the emergency services who protect us.”
Kerena Sheath, who was also at the rally said the vigil was “something beautiful” that came out of something “so hideous.” She explained: “That man wanted to divide us, so by joining hands we are literally doing the opposite of what he wanted. This is London and you are not going to change us.”
He then crashed his vehicle into the railings around Parliament grounds and stabbed to death PC Keith Palmer before being shot dead by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon’s bodyguard.
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