Bradford stands together following seven days of tragedy
Men, women and children gathered in Bradford earlier this week, to pay their respects to the victims of a host of recent attacks which have rocked the eastern and western world.
From Europe to Asia, bomb blasts have been carried out by extremist groups as the world continues to fight against global terror, and the need for a united population grows ever more important.
A candlelit peace vigil was staged in Centenary Square, Bradford, on Tuesday 29th March, as faith and community leaders united with members of the public in a stand of solidarity.
Speaking on the day was Bradford West MP, Naz Shah.
Organised by the community for the community, Ms Shah paid respects to the victims of the terror attacks and the killing of a Glasgow shopkeeper in a religiously motivated attack.
She said: “Whether it is terrorism, whether it is an individual act, whatever it is, the fact is that all the violence that we have seen in the past month, the past few years, is an enormous tragedy.
“I thank all the faith leaders for their attendance. It is not about religion, caste or creed, it is about humanity.
“It is about us saying we are humans first and we have shared values regardless of our backgrounds. That is the absolute key message we need to share today.”
She added: “Today we come together as one. What is really important is that no individual led today. It has been led by the community of Bradford and organised by us. It is not something I have arranged, not the Council for Mosques or the city council, it is something we as the public of Bradford wanted and something we have all together delivered.”
As well as paying respects to the victims of recent bomb blasts in Lahore, Pakistan, and Brussels, Belgium, those in attendance were also reminded of the death of Glasgow shopkeeper, killed by a Bradford man in what was described as a ‘religiously prejudiced attack’.
Representatives from the Bradford Council for Mosques were in attendance and condemned the actions of all assailants, in the UK and overseas.
In a statement, they said: “[For the Majority] of us, who unreservedly desire and aspire for peace and harmony for all, the past week has been painfully difficult.
“There can be no justifications for these cowardly acts of murder,” adding, “our heartfelt condolences go to victims and their families of all and stand in unity with their families and friends.”
Of the shopkeeper’s murder, they continued: “The religiously motivated attack on Asad Shah in Glasgow is of enormous importance and relevance to us in Britain.
“This is a blatant attack on the right of an individual to hold and practice his beliefs. None of us should live in fear of violent retribution from those of different beliefs and convictions.
“This is a sinister act of callous violence and therefore it needs to be condemned for what it is.”
Timeline of tragedy
On Tuesday 22nd March, the Belgian capital of Brussels was rocked by a series of blasts as suicide bombers targeted the city’s airport and metro station.
Thirty-two people died and over 300 were injured in the attack of which extremist group, Daesh, claimed responsibility.
Following the attacks three days of mourning were declared by the Belgian government.
Meanwhile, security at airports, train stations and other transport hubs have been increased in cities around the world as the threat of terror attacks heightens in Western nations.
Asad Shah, an Ahmadi Muslim from Glasgow, was attacked outside his convenience shop on Thursday 24th March, in what police described as a ‘religiously prejudiced attack’.
The 40-year-old was rushed to Queen Elizabeth University Hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival after being found with serious injuries.
Tanveer Ahmed, 32, from Toller in Bradford, has since appeared in court, charged with the murder of Mr Shah, where he did not enter a plea.
Since Mr Shah’s death, an online fundraising page has been set up for his family, with over £100,000 donated so far, whilst a peace vigil near the site of the attack was attended by hundreds, including First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon.
Lahore Easter attacks
Sixty-nine people were killed and many more injured following an explosion at a public park in Lahore, Pakistan, on Sunday 27th March.
Children and women were among the victims in the attack, as families, many of whom were Christian, packed into the Gulshan-e-Iqbal public park.
A Pakistan Taliban faction claimed responsibility for the attack which the Pakistan president, Mamnoon Hussain condemned, as the regional government announced three days of mourning.
It was a suicide bomb that caused the many fatalities, with the blast reportedly occurring near to the main gates.