Sunday 25 June 2017

We asked people at the Trafalgar Square vigil what their message was after the Westminster attack

By Grace Rahman

People gathered for a minute’s silence to remember those who died.

People gathered in Trafalgar Square for a vigil to remember the victims of Wednesday’s Westminster attacks.

They lit candles and held a minute’s silence for policeman Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade and Kurt Cochran.

We went to the vigil and asked people why they had come and what message they had for the world after the attack.

Zishan Ahmad, 25, an imam

His message: Love for all hatred for none.

Ahmad is from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, and said their South West London mosque is the biggest in Western Europe.

“That’s our motto,” he said about his message. “We believe that Islam has equality for all races, all religions. We condemn extremism and terrorism, as anyone else would. Our prayers are with the families of those in yesterday’s attack.”

As we spoke, someone draped in a Union Flag stopped to shake his hand.

How did he feel about the positive reaction him and the other young Muslim men from his mosque were getting from other mourners?

“It makes us feel good that we’re portraying the true message of Islam, that is our golden aim and hopefully we will be a step closer to peace in this society,” he said.

Andrew Gottschalk, 74, a German who has lived in London for 44 years

His message: You will not win with this gun your God does not want.

“Violence, and a gun will achieve nothing,” he said.

“My parents came to England to fight Hitler, I went into the army, my dad was in the army. We put on British uniforms and as far as I’m concerned there’s the line, and you won’t come through it and I don’t care how many of us die, you will not win.”

“I always say when I pass a policeman, thank you for doing a difficult job.”

Leanne Garvie, 38, who has lived in London for seven years

Her message: Love not hate #StrongerTogether

“I think that there’s too much hatred of people in the world and from what I’ve experienced love is the way forward,” she said.

“It was horrible yesterday, but it is nice to see so many people from different backgrounds, ages, colours and religions come together. Obviously it’s terrible that we had to come here for this but it’s great to see so many people here.”

Arian Hotiq, 32, from Albania who has been living in the capital for 13 years

His message: I wonder what really pushed him to do what he did.

“I think they need to do a big investigation to find out why this happened,” he said.

Jan, 57, a carer, campaigner and lifetime Londoner

Her message: Love, acceptance, forgiveness, united, all human. Hope. Love. Not hate.

Jan, who did not want to give her surname, said as a Protestant visiting an Irish Catholic partner in the 80s, she’d experienced abuse for being British. But eventually, she persuaded people that she was not the government, they understood, and it changed her perspective on things.

“We shook hands, and that was really a huge eye opener for me. I didn’t take sides, I got both sides,” she said.

“I worry about the amount of press people like Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage are given because they’re not nurturing people, they’re inciting hatred. They are as equal hate preachers as any Muslim hate preacher or any other religion that preaches hate.”

Jan had a large poster of the late Joe Cox on her bag.

“I was helping with (Tooting MP) Dr Rosena Allin-Khan’s election in Sadiq Khan’s seat on the day,” she explained. “The news came in as we were helping that the lovely Jo Cox had been murdered, assassinated, by a right wing neo-nazi supporter and it stayed with me.

“On both sides there’s hate, bad people are bad people.”

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