Candlelit vigil sees hundreds take to streets of Portsmouth in support of Paris

A candlelit vigil held in Portsmouth tonight for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks Picture: Sarah Standing
A candlelit vigil held in Portsmouth tonight for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks Picture: Sarah Standing
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HUNDREDS of people gathered to show their solidarity with France – and to express their outrage at the recent terrorist attacks.

A candlelit vigil was organised by University of Portsmouth students Leanne Bissat and Carys Morgan.

Crowds gathered at Portsmouth Guildhall at 5.30pm this evening to hear speeches and to show their support.

Marion Forgeot, student officer at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union, who is French, spoke ahead of the march.

She said: ‘We really appreciate the love and support that has been given.

‘There is a big French community in Portsmouth and we all wish we were home right now.

‘But it is important that we must not let them win and we must stand together. Let us be united.’

Student Carys, 20, said: ‘Portsmouth is not afraid and we all make a stand against terrorism.’

Student Leanne, 21, said: ‘We also feel the pain that has been felt in Beirut, Syria, Libya and many other places.

‘We do not just grieve for the west tonight, but for everyone.’

More than 300 people made their way to the Spinnaker Tower, in Gunwharf Quays, where a two-minute silence was held.

People from all walks of life came to the march, after the message was spread on Facebook.

Amy Hedley, 35, from Southsea, was there with her mother Deborah Austin, 51.

Amy said: ‘It is important for everybody to show as much solidarity as possible towards France and Paris.

‘The people who lost their lives were just going about their everyday business. Nobody expected it to happen.

‘We felt it was important to show our support and to show that we are not going to bow down.

‘And there is strength in numbers.’

Also showing their support for Paris and making a stand against religious extremism were members of the Portsmouth Muslim community.

Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, minister of religion at the Al Mahdi Centre, in Fareham, also addressed the crowd.

He said: ‘Let us not be divided. Let us stand with love, compassion and solidarity and we will be able to overcome the gloom that has been cast by these monsters.’

President of Portsmouth Jami Mosque, Mujahid Miah, condemned the attacks.

He said: ‘It is tragic. We are condemning the attacks and the Isis extremists.

‘It is a tragedy and it is bad for all of us. These attacks are against Islam.’