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Bradford stands together following seven days of tragedy

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PEACE VIGIL: Bradford West MP, Naz Shah, lit candles with young and old members of the public to remember the victims of recent terror and religiously motivated attacks

PEACE VIGIL: Bradford West MP, Naz Shah, lit candles with young and old members of the public to remember the victims of recent terror and religiously motivated attacks

Reclaiming humanity

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.

MINUTE OF SILENCE: The crowd fell silent for a moment of reflection

MINUTE OF SILENCE: The crowd fell silent for a moment of reflection

“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.

CANDLE OF HOPE: A mother and her child share a candle at the vigil

CANDLE OF HOPE: A mother and her child share a candle at the vigil

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.”

INTER-FAITH EVENT: Faith leaders from the city were represented at the event, pictured is Rabi Rudi Leavor

INTER-FAITH EVENT: Faith leaders from the city were represented at the event, pictured is Rabi Rudi Leavor

 

Timeline of tragedy

 

Brussels bombing                                                

RESPECT: Three days of mourning were declared after the Brussels attacks

RESPECT: Three days of mourning were declared after the Brussels attacks

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.

 

Shopkeeper murdered

RELIGION: Asad Shah was allegedly attacked because of his religious beliefs

RELIGION: Asad Shah was allegedly attacked because of his religious beliefs

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

TRAGIC: Women and children were amongst those killed in the Lahore bombing (pic credit: YouTube)

TRAGIC: Women and children were amongst those killed in the Lahore bombing (pic credit: YouTube)

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.

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Terror in Brussels

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RESPECT: A minute of silence was observed in Brussels the day after the attacks

RESPECT: A minute of silence was observed in Brussels the day after the attacks

Prime Minister chairs COBRA meeting in response to terrorist attacks

As the world continues to recover from the latest Daesh terror attacks on European soil, Prime Minister David Cameron has held an emergency COBRA meeting as security is ramped up in the UK.

Thirty-one people died and 260 others were injured, after two blasts rocked the Belgian capital on the morning of Tuesday 22nd March.

RESOLVE: Home Secretary Theresa May says we must stand united in the face of terrorism

RESOLVE: Home Secretary Theresa May says we must stand united in the face of terrorism

Twin blasts hit the city's Zaventem airport at about 7am before another explosion was seen at the Maelbeek metro station, near EU headquarters, an hour later.

Four Britons were killed and another remains missing.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has chaired a further COBRA meeting this morning on the Brussels attacks.

“We are concerned about one missing British national and we are in close contact with the Belgian authorities. We are aware of four British nationals who were injured in the attacks – three are being treated in hospital, one has already been discharged.

“Our embassy staff are working to assist all British nationals affected.

“In terms of travel advice, we continue to advise people to follow the advice of the Belgian authorities.

“Therefore we are no longer advising against travel to Brussels. British nationals in Belgium should remain alert and vigilant, stay away from crowded places, and follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities.

“Here in the UK, we stepped up the security presence at a number of locations across the country yesterday and we will maintain this in the coming days. The national threat level remains at ‘severe’ (an attack is highly likely) and the public are advised to be ‘alert but not alarmed’.”

Two of the men who carried out suicide attacks have been named as brothers, Khalid and Brahim el-Bakraoui, whilst terror group, Daesh, has claimed it was behind the bombings.

Home Secretary Theresa May says the UK and its allies must now work with ‘greater urgency and joint resolve’ to defeat terrorism.

She told MPs Britain must do more to support ‘vulnerable’ countries and to counter the ‘poisonous and repugnant’ ideology of Daesh.

SUSPECTS: The three suspected terrorists can be seen in CCTV footage from the airport

SUSPECTS: The three suspected terrorists can be seen in CCTV footage from the airport

Speaking from Westminster, Keighley and Ilkley MP Kris Hopkins said: “I share the sense of outrage and horror following the heinous acts of terrorism in Brussels.

“On behalf of the people of Keighley and Ilkley, I wish to express sympathy to the families of those who lost their lives and absolute support for the many who have been injured.

“The evil individuals behind these cowardly attacks want to destroy our way of life. But they have underestimated us and will not prevail.”

Earlier, Lord Reid, who was Labour home secretary until shortly before the 7th July 2005 bombings in London, told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme a terror attack in the UK like that in Brussels was inevitable.

“Politicians ought to be honest with the British people and tell them, 'this will happen’,” he said. “It will happen here because the terrorists only have to get through once.”

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