Niall Cooper: Love defies hate
Love defies hate in Manchester
Local communities woke up for days on end to news of the latest arrest or dawn raid on a house, a street, not a stone’s throw from our own. It was strange to find Whalley Range, my own neighbourhood of 25 years, at the centre of the latest episode in the global ‘war on terror’.
A whole city was traumatised by the terrible truth that this was inflicted by one of our own. Salman Abedi was not some distant figure, but a Mancunian. Some of his friends attended the same school as my children. One boy – who was captured on camera sitting on a bench next to Abedi in Manchester a few years ago – was recognised by my middle daughter as being in her own year group.
Mancunians are not the first to experience such senseless pain, nor sadly, will we be the last. As the Psalmist said: ‘Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.’
The shock and the suffering will not easily be diluted by time. But alongside suffering there is also hope.
To be present at the vigil in Albert Square in the heart of the city, the day after the bombing, with thousands of other Mancunians, will live in my memory a long time. An overwhelming sense, not of anger, nor of revenge, but of solidarity – and yes, even defiance. It was special too to spend an hour in St Ann’s Square (pictured right), silently sharing a collective sense of grief and loss alongside the myriad of blossoms and bouquets, poems and balloons, whilst a small army of busy Mancunian bees buzzed their way from bloom to bloom. …
This is an extract from an article published in the July/August 2017 edition of Reform