Guest article from The Salford Star:

Last night, as thousands of people, including the Salford Mayor and the city’s MPs, attended a vigil in Albert Square, it emerged that the suspected Manchester Arena bomber, who left 22 dead and 59 injured, was 22 year old Salman Abedi, a student at the University of Salford.

“This is a further shock to all of us” stated a memo to the University’s staff “and we understand how this will affect all members of our University community…”

Attendees included Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, Liberal Democrats leader, Tim Farron, the Conservative Party’s Sajid Javid and the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, as well as religious leaders and Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham.

Salford City Mayor, Paul Dennett, and Salford MPs, Barbara Keeley and Rebecca Long-Bailey, held placards showing Manchester and Salford town halls ‘Standing Shoulder to Shoulder with our sister City’…

Well known local poet, Tony Walsh, or ‘Longfella’, read out a poem which summed up the attitude…

“Because this is a place that has been through some hard times
Oppressions, recessions, depressions and dark times
But we keep fighting back with Greater Manchester spirit
Northern grit, northern wit and Greater Manchester lyrics

And there’s hard times again in these streets of our city
But we won’t take defeat and we don’t want your pity
Because this is the place where we stand strong together
With a smile on our face, Mancunians forever…”

To defiant cheers, Longfella ended his poem, with the message “Choose love”, which was echoed in many of the placards and banners that people had brought to the Square. After a minute’s silence for the victims, the Bishop of Manchester lit a candle of remembrance and the vigil ended with footy chants of “Manchester… Manchester..”

As thousands of people were converging on the city centre, news emerged that the suspected bomber of the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena was 22 year old Salman Abedi, a management and business student at the University of Salford.

“We have now learnt that the suspect named by Police, Salman Abedi, was a student of the University” a memo to staff stated “This is a further shock to all of us, and we understand how this will affect all members of our University community.

“Great cities, like great people, show their true values in adversity” it added “The support and help we have seen given across Manchester and Salford last night and today shows the true spirit of our area. This is an amazing place, and we stand by each other.”

In late afternoon, three buildings around the Peel Park campus were evacuated as police checked out reports of a suspect device…The University stated that this was “a precautionary measure for a short period of time…We are grateful for the calm way in which staff and students cooperated with the evacuation. All buildings reopened quickly and we have returned to business as usual.”

On a more positive note, Salford’s Sarah Whitehead has created a Manchester Needs Your Love, free hugs event in Piccadilly Gardens this Saturday 27th May, from 10am ‘to stand against the hate that has brought such terror and turmoil to our beautiful City…’

The event will include a walk from the Gardens, via Market Street, to Urbis/Victoria Station where there will be a minute’s silence at 1pm, and people are asked to bring love hearts, peace signs, bright colours, candles and banners…

“After feeling helpless and wondering what can I do to help, I kept coming back to the idea that all I can do is show love, because love is all that can heal a wound created from hate” Sarah told the Salford Star “We will come together to show love and solidarity and give out hugs…”

For further details see the Facebook event Manchester Needs Your Love – click here

Originally published in The Salford Star on the 24 May 2017 under the headline ‘MANCHESTER ARENA BOMBER WAS SALFORD UNIVERSITY STUDENT’ – click here

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