Last night, Manchester became the target of the deadliest terrorist attack on domestic soil since the 7/7 bombings in London. In an act of monstrous cruelty, the man responsible chose a pop concert, filled with children, young people and their parents. He attacked our shared values, our love of the arts, of music and of the freedom to come together.
There can be no words to describe the suffering of those who have lost loved ones. Children were among the 22 killed, and some parents still don’t know if their babies are going to come home. People are injured and many are still being treated in hospital. The numbers of the dead may still rise.
But amongst the grief and panic, Manchester’s indomitable spirit has not been broken. We are a vibrant, multicultural city, where decency and tolerance are highly valued. We will not be cowed or divided, not by this cowardly act of terrorism or by those who will take this event as an opportunity to stoke up Islamophobia and racial hatred.
I’m so proud of my city. Manchester’s emergency service workers responded to the crisis with speed and skill, and continued to work and treat people all through the night.
Manchester’s taxi drivers gave free rides to concert-goers, hotels provided rooms free of charge, and so many people opened their homes to those who were stranded or injured in last night’s attack.
An incredible woman took around 50 children who had been separated from their parents to safety, chaperoning them to a nearby hotel and sharing her phone number on social media so that parents could get in touch with her.
A homeless man rushed inside the arena with no concern for his own safety, and held an injured woman while she died in his arms.
People have been queuing throughout the day to give blood, so many that the NHS has now confirmed that they have all the blood they need for patients at this time.
My place of work, the Islamic faith-based charity Human Appeal, responded immediately to create a fund for the victims of the terrible attack. People of all faiths are coming together to show solidarity and concern.
All local concerts in our thriving music scene are going ahead as planned, to show those who would terrorise us that we will not run scared.
We are the city of the Smiths, the Stone Roses, Oasis and Factory Records. We are the city of Emmeline Pankhurst, L.S Lowry, of the very first stored programme computer, of industry and art and political theory. We are a welcoming, free-thinking city. We stand together, in strength and love.