British Muslims have been handing out flowers as a symbol of love at the site of the latest terrorist attack in the UK.
Some 3,000 roses were given to Londoners and tourists on London Bridge in a demonstration of solidarity following the van and knife rampage that left eight people dead and dozens injured.
“After the events of last weekend we are making a symbolic gesture of love for the communities affected by the attack,” said Zakia Bassou, one of the organisers of today’s event. “The whole concept is we are not going to let London Bridge, or any bridge, fall down.”
Members of the public praised the act of solidarity, calling it ‘touching’ and ‘powerful’.
Londoner Elida Ercolano was visibly emotional after receiving her rose. “I think it’s lovely, it’s what London is actually about as a city,” she said.
“It’s what people should remember despite what’s gone on. It’s a great symbol and of nothing else it’s bringing people together. It’s very easy to believe the fear but boil it down and we are actually, in the main, good people and we should remember that.”
June Collis, from Gillingham, Dorset, said it was “beautiful and lovely to see this group come out and share their love against all the horrible things that have happened”.
“Muslims need to speak up and go against the extremists,” she added. “This is a good way of speaking up for themselves. Let’s just hope we don’t see any more of these horrible killings.”
David Hackett, visiting the capital from Durham, said he found the event “very touching,” adding, “it’s great to see people giving such a beautiful thing to demonstrate the love people have for each other.”
“It’s a strong, powerful message in such a poignant place, given recent events.”
Nancy Cannata, 61, from Massachusetts in the US, said: “It’s very nice to see. And I think it’s nice that they’re Muslims – it’s not everybody in the Muslim community carrying out these attacks. There are good and bad people in every religion, and I wish people could realise that.”
Nancy was visiting London Bridge as part of a long-planned holiday to the UK with her husband, Gaetano, 63. The couple booked the trip in October last year, and said they had never considered changing their plans.
“We felt it would be safe and that there would actually be even more security, and we can see that’s the case. We feel very safe,” he said. “We just hope the world is heading in a better direction.”
The 1,000 Roses London project paid for the roses through a crowdfunding campaign and bought the flowers at Zara Floral in East Grinstead. Fundraising is continuing and the group is planning to hold another rally in the future.
On Saturday, police revealed that the ringleader of the extremist terrorist group responsible for the London Bridge attack tried to hire a 7.5-tonne lorry hours before the rampage. Detectives believe many more could have died if Khuram Butt had not failed to secure the vehicle because his payment did not go through.
The jihadi, who worked on the London Underground for six months, despite having appeared in a documentary about Islamist extremism, instead resorted to ‘plan B’ and rented a white van.
On Saturday June 3, the group — comprising Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba — killed eight and injured dozens more in the attack in central London.