Preston took a strong and united stance against terrorism in a show of solidarity on Monday night.Advertisement
It comes in response to the terrorist attack which claimed four lives and injured 50 in Westminster, London on 22 March – just five days ago.
Starting with a Facebook event created by Light Foundation, it attracted over 70 people registering their interest online, with the invite of prominent speakers such as Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw, leader of Preston City Council councillor Peter Rankin and many more.
Over 100 people turned up, huddling in a circle at 7pm on the Flag Market, ready to listen to a wide range of religious speakers, to take part in short prayers, in a strong and humble show of solidarity with those affected in the terrorist attack.
Once the event was underway, speakers of different religions engaged with the crowd, reciting different scriptures and alluding to their interfaith unity. The mood, understandably, was sombre and muted – the peaceful atmosphere occasionally pierced by disrespectful jeers by passing groups. However, this didn’t halt the event, with the speakers simply smiling and carrying on, much to the relief of everyone there.
At the closure of the event, the group – which had slightly grown in size since its beginning, held hands in a large circle in front of the Harris Museum, and its beaming “Everything Is Going To Be Alright” neon sign. The gathering stayed there, silent and thoughtful, for a few minutes – before dispersing with the scattered hug, discussion and media interview.
Preston has long been a diverse and accepting city, uniting against the most repugnant aspects of society in shows of solidarity, protest or respect. This time, and it can be said with absolute certainty, I wish we didn’t need to meet. I wish the attacks did not happen and that this event wouldn’t have needed to be called, just like the next person, but consequently I’m happy to live in a community that can stand up to such global evils in a warm and positive way.
In the words of Reverend Mark Slaney, who spoke at the event: “There is only ‘us’, rather than ‘us — and them’.
View more pictures from the vigil below: