Hundreds gather in Portsmouth for vigil honouring victims of Christchurch terror attack in New Zealand

HUNDREDS of mourners from across the city united to remember 50 people who lost their lives in a devastating terror attack.

Saturday, 16th March 2019, 2:00 pm
Updated Monday, 18th March 2019, 11:42 pm

The show of solidarity illuminated Guildhall Square tonight as residents staged a vigil for victims who died in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on Friday.

Dozens more were wounded in the incident which was livestreamed on social media by a sick gunman believed to be a white supremacist.

Portsmouth Stand Up to Racism campaigner Simon Magorian organised tonight's event and paved the way for those affected by last week’s tragedy to speak out.

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Lamiaa Elsayed, from Havant, told the crowds it ‘meant so much’ to see them gather in the name of unity.

‘This means there’s still a chance things can get better,’ the 33-year-old said.

‘If we get more people together we are going to be much stronger against people doing horrific things.

‘This gives me hope we won’t have to live in fear or have to face something like this again.’

Dawoud Al-Ali, 56, said he has been struck by the outpouring after Friday’s atrocity.

‘As brothers and sisters in humanity we have a responsibility,’ he said.

‘We are fulfilling that by standing shoulder to shoulder with each other, in the face of evil, to send a message to these criminals.’

Gathering at the bottom of Portsmouth Guildhall’s steps from 6.30pm, people in the crowd listened as members of the public were shared positive messages over a megaphone.

A minute’s silence then followed, before crowds began to disperse just before 7.30pm.

‘We managed to facilitate a number of voices and that was great,’ Mr Magorian said.

‘What was important about tonight was that we had several hundred people here saying we don’t want to be divided, rejecting white supremacy and showing solidarity with the Muslim community in Portsmouth and in New Zealand.

‘I think that says something pretty wonderful about us as a city and I am immensely proud of the people of Portsmouth.'

The vigil came after anti-racism activists from Portsmouth rallied in London on Saturday.