WE must stand together in solidarity.
That’s the overwhelming message today as Portsmouth and the surrounding areas stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of France following the terrorist attacks in Paris.
The city showed its outpouring of sympathy and unity yesterday as thousands attended the Pompey match and took part in a minute’s silence to remember the 129 people killed in the atrocities.
Some fans carried flags of the French Tricolour, with hand-written words ‘Play Up Paris’.
It followed a poignant tribute to the victims when the Spinnaker Tower was lit up in blue, white and red on Saturday night and yesterday as a mark of respect. People of all ages braved the wet and windy weather on Saturday to watch the symbolic gesture.
And other public buildings, including the Ben Ainslie Racing headquarters in Old Portsmouth, the Guildhall, and the Pyramids, were lit up in the French colours. Portsmouth City Council is currently finalising details of a vigil it wants to hold in the city later this week.
Council leader Donna Jones said: ‘We are planning a tribute as the city has had a strong reaction to the terrorist attacks in Paris.’
Portsmouth North MP and armed forces minister Penny Mordaunt told The News: ‘It’s the most barbaric and cowardly act murdering innocent people who were going about their business, relaxing and enjoying themselves.
‘I think that from the prime minister, all over the country and in our city as well, there has been a huge outpouring of sympathy and solidarity with the people of France.
‘We know we are living in dangerous times and that Isil, who are claiming responsibility for this, are a threat and we need to be alert.
‘But we also need to ensure that these cowards don’t in any way affect our way of life, which is their aim.
‘People feel very strongly about that.
‘I have been in contact with a number of constituents and people want opportunities to express their solidarity. I think people will welcome opportunities to do that with some sort of vigil.’
Yesterday there was a spontaneous round of applause on 13 minutes during Pompey’s League Two match against AFC Wimbledon at Fratton Park in memory of those who lost their lives on November 13,
The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, was played before the game, while the Blues’ French players Rommy Boco and Nigel Atangana carried a French flag on to the pitch.