Tuesday, 30 May 2017


On Monday 22 May the City of Manchester (one of my favourite cities in the world), was turned upside down when suicide bomber Salman Abedi went to the Manchester MEN Arena (not the MCCC. That's the other one, just to be clear) and detonated a IED which killed 22 people and badly injured 116.

It was an act of cruel and cowardly terror and by all accounts a scene of absolute horror.

The immediate reaction was what you probably expect: Anger, sadness, a desire to see something done about these cowardly acts that keep happening and of course we had our loud mouth idiots and Islamaphobes who really should have left things unsaid.

There was a young man I interviewed who said that just trying to solve one terrorist attack is not good enough, we need to take a look at the bigger picture. I completely agree. However, a lot of people have been saying that in our aim to stop horrors such as at the MEN Arena and the shooting at the Bataclan, we should be specially targeting Islam and the Muslim population. This is, of course, completely ridiculous.  A terrorist is a terrorist regardless of his background or nationality.

Of course, this is what some people want to happen. But from the very beginning of this incident, the people of Manchester showed everyone what should happen.

People opened their doors to give stranded people a bed for the night when the transport system was brought to a complete standstill. Taxi drivers (some of whom were the Muslims people say should be targeted) gave free rides to anyone who was stuck. The Holiday Inn hotel opened its doors and effectively became a lost childrens' centre. People on the internet retweeted the faces of lost children to say either "find this person" or an alert to say "they have been found". And a homeless man treated the injured, scared witless children who were coming out of the Arena. And all that was just the beginning of the kindness.

I went to Manchester the day after. And I met amazing people. The friendly police, the Muslims (yes, the people who are being vilified for no reason) showing such immense kindness by talking to people and giving them reassurance that they condemned this cowardly attack as much as everyone else. In Albert Square, different charities and associations were giving out free snacks and drinks. And people were going around with signs saying, "Love for Manchester" and "free hugs". I sure as hell needed a free hug. I went to St Peter's Square where there was a modest but beautiful memorial. And I went to the police cordon where I spoke to a nice policeman and told him what a good job he was doing. I thought all this was all pretty wonderful.

Loving and helpful people of Manchester

Solidarity for Manchester

Then on Thursday I returned, this time to St Ann's Square. The sight there was even more amazing! There were more flowers in one place then I'd ever seen in my life. Along with lots of balloons, teddy bears and messages of sympathy.  And there were chalk messages written all over paving slabs. I even wrote one myself. It was the most amazing outpouring of grief, love, compassion and kindness. It was everywhere. I walked around and saw it wherever I went. I walked into the Cathedral, said my prayers for the 22 people who died, lit a tealight, signed a book of condolence and made a donation. My way of showing my love to the victims and their families.

St Ann's Square - a memorial to the lost

I did all this, but it didn't change how I felt. Angry. Very angry. Upset as hell that anyone had such cruelty in his heart that he could murder innocent people enjoying themselves, just because he had taken the words of Mohamed (PBUH) that are so beautifully written, (I know. I've read the Q'uran) and turned it into some twisted ideology that makes no sense whatsoever.

Angry with MI5, who were allegedly told in January (yes, JANUARY!!) that an attack was going to happen and did absolutely nothing about it.

Angry at the government for putting military on the streets to support the police who couldn't cope because Theresa May cut their funding in the first place.

Angry because I saw (and as an empath, felt) these people suffering and could do nothing to ease their pain. I just felt really angry at the whole horrible situation.

We can (and should) keep laying the flowers, singing the songs, saying the prayers, but it's not solving the main issue here that we need to stop terrorism. But targeting the Muslim community is not the way it should be done. In fact we shouldn't be targeting any one, except the terrorists. We need to take terrorism as it is and deal with it. Terrorism - not Islam.

I am no longer angry, as anger really doesn't change anything. What we need to do is find a proper constructive way to stop terrorism and soon.

My love and condolences to the people of Manchester.

My message for the lost