People in South Leeds have been marking the tragic events in Paris on Friday night with small shows of solidarity.
As well as the minute’s silence which was widely observed at 11am, St Mary’s Church in Beeston was opened all day today (16 November 2015) for prayer and quiet reflection. An announcement on Facebook was quickly shared with over 900 people showing a widespread urge to show public solidarity with the people of France.
Rev Lindsey Pearson, the Vicar of Beeston said:
“I feel as the Church of England we have an important role to play in making space available in our community where people of all faiths and none can come together at moments like these.”
Prayers were said at 9:30am and 1pm, but the church remained open all day for anyone to call in. Candles were lit in solidarity.
Hilary Benn MP tweeted his thoughts:
“Terrible events in Paris. We are all thinking of those who have lost their lives, the injured and their families. Solidarité avec Paris.”
In his role as Shadow Foreign Minister he laid flowers on the steps of the French Embassy in London, which he described as covered in flowers and he picked out one heartfelt message:
“To all victims and families of France attacks I send my deepest condolences and regrets. I, as a Muslim, condemn any act of violence against innocent people.
“My God gives you peace in hearts to pass these hard times. Not in Islam’s name or my name, this is not Islam’s teaching.”
Speaking as Leader of the Council, Cllr Judith Blake (Middleton Park) said:
“We will hold a ceremony at Victoria Gardens on Monday to allow people to express both their sorrow and solidarity. We are working with others to make sure appropriate support is available to those who may need it and make clear our commitment to standing up to terrorism and violence.”
Beeston charity Aspiring Communities also issued a statement condemning the ‘fanatics’ that carried out the attacks and their ‘extremist ideology’. It went on:
“We need to remain vigilant and look out for each other and ensure no hatred creeps in that divides our diverse communities across the UK. By standing together we will demonstrate to these extremists that they will not succeed in dividing us.
“The Muslim communities must continue to support and work with the government in order to disrupt and target these terrorists and their backers to ensure these criminals are dealt with in the strongest possible way, where ever they may be.”