On the 22nd May thousands of people attended a concert in the MEN Arena, Manchester. Many of them were young people and girls in particular, excited by the prospect of watching their idol Ariana Grande perform. Twenty two of them would be murdered and many more injured by an evil maniac.
Questions have been asked as to why a fellow Mancunian would kill and injure children and families who were enjoying themselves at a concert. However, this hateful individual does not represent Mancunians. He does not represent any religion. In fact, he does not represent humanity. He represents a warped ideology that decent people find abhorrent.
Manchester is not just a great city because of its football teams, music, shopping arcades, the ship canal and a certain television soap opera. Manchester is great because of its people. Decent, salt of the earth and proud northerners.
Mancunians have shown the world how to react to tragedies like this. Not by more hate, revenge and division. Their response has been unity, solidarity, compassion and humanity. They have collectively wrapped their arms around the victim’s families and helped to comfort them. They will continue to do so for as long as it takes.
Faced with adversity, Mancunians sent out a strong and defiant message. Thousands gathered in Albert Square in solidarity with the victims and stood up to the extremists who have failed to divide them. Mancunians are better than that.
When right wing extremists, the EDL, tried to exploit the atrocity, Mancunians stood up to them. One shouted ‘the people of Manchester will stick together’. That is what Mancunians do.
A man giving blood said ‘we can react in anger or we can react by doing’. That is what Mancunians do.
The ordinary Mancunians who opened up their homes to strangers, comforting them and giving them a place of shelter. The taxi drivers who helped people to get home by offering free rides to those affected by the attack. That is what Mancunians do.
Manchester has recovered from tragedy before and it will do again. Its people have been tested in the most horrible way and they have responded with a typical sense of character, pride and unity.
Manchester, we are proud of you and we are with you.