Sadiq Khan leads London in messages of unity and defiance following Westminster attack

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Kayleigh Dray
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Londoners are making their strength known in the face of terror.

On Wednesday 22 March, a car was driven down the pavement of Westminster Bridge, killing three pedestrians and injuring at least 40 others. The car then crashed into the railings outside the Houses of Parliament during Prime Minister’s Question Time.

The driver, armed with a knife, exited the vehicle and ran to Parliament, where he was confronted by the police. One unarmed officer, PC Keith Palmer, was stabbed and killed, before the attacker (who remains, at this time, unidentified by police) was shot dead by armed officers.

Acting deputy commissioner and head of counter terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, Mark Rowley, said authorities think they know who he is and that he was inspired by international and Islamist-related terrorism, but at time of writing had given no further details.

Among the chaos, however, were scenes of heroism. Doctors and nurses from St Thomas’ Hospital ran from their building to Westminster Bridge so that they could help those who had been injured in the attack, while bystanders remained on the scene to offer aid and assistance. And Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, whose brother was killed in 2002 terrorist bombings, was seen giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the wounded police officer.

Prime Minister Theresa May paid tribute to the emergency services, saying: “Once again today, these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger, even as they encouraged others to move the other way.

“That they have lost one of their own in today's attacks only makes their calmness and professionalism under pressure all the more remarkable.”

In a video message, London Mayor Sadiq Khan joined May in expressing his gratitude to the police and emergency services for their “tremendous bravery in exceptionally difficult circumstances.”

He went on to assert: “I want to reassure all Londoners, and all our visitors, not to be alarmed. Our city remains one of the safest in the world. 

“London is the greatest city in the world and we stand together in the face of those who seek to harm us and destroy our way of life.” 

Khan continued: “We have, and we always will. Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.”

His words were echoed all over social media by his fellow Londoners: with the hashtags #WeStandTogether and #WeAreNotAfraid trending on Twitter, it became quickly apparent that the overwhelming response to the attack was one of defiance, unity and solidarity.

One quote doing the rounds read: “Hope is stronger than fear.

“When we stand together, we are much stronger than those who incite fear.”

Someone else posted: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.

“You will always find people who are helping.”

And those were just two of the messages spreading hope across the Twittersphere.

“We're the world's oldest democracy and we will not give in to terror,” wrote Amandeep SinghBhogal. “Our democracy is strong and we are not afraid.”

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of them all,” tweeted Transport for London, citing Disney’s Mulan.

Natalie Williams added: “The love and bravery shown today was far greater than any hate. We are united and we are not afraid.”

One picture appeared to show that a TFL employee had penned a message on a station’s whiteboard, reading: “All terrorists are politely reminded that this is London. And, whatever you do to us, we will drink tea and jolly well carry on. Thank you.”

“Europe cries again,” wrote a Twitter user, sharing a clip of Big Ben in the rain. “But we are not afraid. Terrorism has no religion.”

Another added: “London is strong, tolerant, progressive, and diverse – we are not afraid. Thoughts are with everyone this evening.”

“London is such a lovely and charming and gorgeous and wonderful city,” said one. “My thoughts are with the victims of this horrendous act.”

Reassuring people around the world that the mood remained positive and upbeat in the city, one Londoner tweeted: “London's just going about its business. Pubs and theatres still full. Trains packed.

“Everyone looks a little sadder but we are not afraid.”

On a similar note, another added: “I will be out shopping and carrying on with daily life in London this Saturday. I stand with London.”

Images: Twitter / Rex Features


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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.