Thousands of people, including many political leaders, attended a vigil in Manchester for the 22 victims and more than 50 injured following the terror attack on Monday night at an Ariana Grande pop concert.
Manchester’s Albert Square was full of mourners Tuesday evening from various local communities including many political party leaders, though Prime Minister Theresa May was notably absent from the event.
Eddy Newman, lord mayor of Manchester, spoke at the vigil saying: “The people of Manchester will remember the victims forever and we will defy the terrorists by working together to create cohesive, diverse communities that are stronger together.”
“We are the many, they are the few,” he added.
Amongst the political leaders in attendance was Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham who gave a statement on the attacks earlier in the day saying: “These were children, young people and their families that those responsible chose to terrorise and kill.”
“This was an evil act. Our first thoughts are with the families of those killed and injured. And we will do whatever we can to support them,” he added and praised those on social media who had offered a helping hand to those affected by the attack.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was also spotted, though kept a low profile and kept himself in the back row of the political leaders.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron was also in attendance. Mr. Farron revealed that his own children had friends who attended the concert where the attack took place and called the incident “beyond wicked”.
Home Secretary Amber Rudd represented the Tories in lieu of Prime Minister May. Many at the vigil questioned why Mrs. May had not attended, though she had visited victims in one of Manchester’s local hospitals earlier in the day.
Tory Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid, of Muslim heritage and a critic of those who downplay the links between Islam and terrorism, was also at the vigil.
Shortly after the attacks on French magazine Charlie Hebdo, he said: “There is no getting away from the fact that the people carrying out these acts – what we have seen just horrifically this week in Paris, what has happened in London and Madrid – these people call themselves Muslims.”
Controversial former Respect MP George Galloway was also spotted at the event. Mr. Galloway is currently running for election in the Gorton district of Manchester as an independent.
Galloway entered the contest after slamming Labour for presenting an “all-Asian” shortlist for the race which was originally planned as a by-election but later cancelled and incorporated into the general election.
The mood at the vigil was described as lively with a strong presence from the Sikh community and the often persecuted Ahmadi Muslim sect.