LONDON – Donning blue to symbolize peace, Muslim women linked arms in a human chain along Westminster Bridge on Sunday, March 26, to show solidarity with the victims of Wednesday’s terror attack.
“The feeling of what happened here on Wednesday was really strong,” Fariha Khan, 40, told the Telegraph UK.
“We thought of the ordinary people who were here and were mown down, standing here like this, it was very overwhelming.”
The women, from various backgrounds and dressed in blue to symbolize hope, stood in silence for five minutes as the Big Ben chimed 4pm Sunday.
Four people were killed when British-born Khalid Masood drove a car across Westminster Bridge, hitting anyone in sight, before stabbing a police officer near Parliament.
Standing on the bridge, Sarah Waseem, said that when an attack happens in London, “it is an attack on me”.
“It is an attack on all of us. Islam totally condemns violence of any sort. This is abhorrent to us,” she explained.
The vigil, organized by Women’s March On London, came after a photo of a woman wearing an Islamic head covering crossing the bridge in the aftermath of the attack went viral on social media.
Some commentators criticized what they perceived to be the woman’s indifference to an injured victim in the image.
The woman in the photograph released a statement Friday to set the record straight.
“Not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I’ve also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia,” she told Tell MAMA, a UK-based organization which monitors anti-Muslim attacks, the CNN reported.
“My thoughts at that moment were one of sadness, fear, and concern,” the unnamed woman said in a statement.
“What the image does not show is that I had talked to other witnesses to try and find out what was happening, to see if I could be of any help… My thoughts go out to all the victims and their families.”
The photographer who took the photo has spoken out in the woman’s defense.
“The people who took on that picture are being rather selective,” freelance photographer Jamie Lorriman told Australian broadcaster ABC.
“In the other picture in the sequence she looks truly distraught… personally I think she looks distressed in both pictures.”