“We do not just stand for the West tonight, but for the world.”
These were the words spoken by Leanne Bisatte and Carys Morgan, the organisers of Monday’s candlelight walks, who are both students at The University of Portsmouth.
The event, which began at 5:30pm on Monday the 16th came as a response to the Paris attacks that took place late into the night on Friday the 13th November, which left 129 people dead.
The attacks which are believed to have been caused by Islamist militants has led to fear and debates surrounding the rise in militant groups entering Europe due to the immigration crises this September.
However, in a bid to step away from any potential racism and prejudice towards members of the Muslim community, who are particularly at risk to these attack, and to show support and solidarity to everyone affected by terrorism around the globe, events and silences, such as Portsmouth’s candlelight walk have taken place across the West.
Portsmouth Guildhall, the meeting place of the walk, was lit up in the colours of the French flag this evening, as speakers from the Muslim faith and French population gave their own responses to the terrorist attacks in Paris and across the globe.
The speakers received cheers and applause from the crowd of approximately 200 men, women and children, who gathered from across Portsmouth to share in the message that Islam does not condone these attacks.
A minutes silence was held at Guildhall before the crowd, escorted by local police, were guided to Spinnaker tower. Police motorbikes were used to halt the flow of traffic between Guildhall and Gunwharf, to allow for the crowd to move peacefully and efficiently.
Even amongst the crowd’s walk towards Spinnaker Tower, a feeling of unity was present, as men of Muslim faith and students from across the globe, stopped to help re-light the candles of nearby walkers that had blown out in the wind.
Another minute of silence was held beneath Spinnaker Tower, which had also been lit with the colours of the French flag, to show Portsmouth’s respect for those who have died in terrorist attacks.
Speaking to Leanne Bisatte and Carys Morgan after the event, they expressed their views that:
“The attacks don’t represent all of the people in the Middle-East, and as we’ve heard from the speeches tonight, it is not reflective of the Muslim religion.”
When asked about how they felt the candlelit walk would reflect this ideology, they replied that:
“It shows that a lot of people from different cultures, different religions, French, English, different people from across the globe have come to show their solidarity, shows that it is a global problem, but how can unite and act together to fight this.”
The extremely peaceful event certainly has been successful in showing a large portion of Portsmouth’s response of unity against the terrorist attacks facing the world today.