The city of Wakefield was united on Sunday as it came together to remember the twenty-two victims of the Manchester attack.
The names of each of those who died last Monday was said outloud and a candle lit in their name in a vigil at Wakefield Cathedral.
A group of over 150 Muslims many carrying banners saying “ I love Manchester’ and “Islam means Peace” processed from the mosque in York Street up to the Cathedral for the vigil to join around 200 local people and representatives of the communities on the Cathedral steps including: Mary Creagh, former MP and the Parliamentary Labour candidate; Iqbal Bhana, West Yorkshire’s deputy lieutenant; the new Mayor of Wakefield, Coun Kevin Barker and the Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson.
The vigil started with prayers from the Iman from the mosque on the cathedral steps and was followed by speeches and prayers.
The first speaker from the Muslim community presented two roses – one red; one white to represent the two counties of Yorkshire and Lancashire and said:
“Today we are gathered here in unfortunate circumstances; we as individuals need to be condemning the nature of this attack and share the message that Wakefield is united as Yorkshire and Lancashire which is why I have brought these two flowers that represent the two counties......"
“This attack has ripped through the heart of the people; those living in England, Scotland, Wales and right through the world.
"The roots of this terrorism is not Islam….and it is not welcome,” he added.
Mary Creagh, the former MP for Wakefield and now the Labour Parliamentary candidate, said that she remembered that terrible day in 2005 in London and well remembed visiting the mosques and churches in Wakefield after that despicable act.
“We stand today with those families who lost loved ones in Manchester, with those families who were caught up in that terrible act to say we stand with our neighbours in this city and are united against all forms of hated.
“Light and love will triumph over dark and terror,” she added.
Prayers were said for the Emergency Services and those that helped on Monday from a member of the Wakefield Interfaith Group before the Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Iqbal Bhana took to the stage and said as a proud Muslim that this act was “not in my name” and “not in the name of millions of Muslims in this country.”
An Elder of the Wakefield Mosques took to the stage and said that the perpetrators wanted to sow seeds of hate in our communities and that if we let them, then they win, but we don’t and this is why we are here today.
"This is not about Manchester or Wakefield or beyond; it’s about being human. We have no label but as human beings; all of us.”
Everyone processed inside the cathedral for more prayers and silence. The sub dean of Wakefield Cathedral, Canon Tony Macpherson, led the service by naming every victim of the bombing and a candle was lit in their name and placed on a table in front of the altar by different members of the communities present.
One Elder of the mosques came forward to remind people how Wakefield had a history of unity amongst its communities. He told the story of how, as a child in the 1970s, he had been standing with his Elders near the Cathedral in winter waiting to say the prayers for Eid in a room above a nightclub. There was a dance class going on and they had to wait until that had finished; it was cold; it was snowing and they stood huddled together in the city centre waiting. The then Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Thomas Hare, was in the Cathedral at the time, and saw them gathered there in the snow and invited them to say their prayers for Eid in the Cathedral.
“Wakefield has always had a history of unity amongst its communities. We are united and and we will overcome this,” he said.
Bishop Tony led final prayers and told those gathered there that the Wakefield Interfaith Group gathered on the first Saturday of every month at 11am on the Cathedral steps to pray for peace and invited everyone gathered there to join them.
“We know our world needs peace. Come and join us,” he added. He then invited everyone to share the peace as a fitting end to the service.