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 yesterday to hear speeches and to show their support, before they walked to the Spinnaker Tower, at Gunwharf Quays, where a minute’s silence was held.
Among the crowds was Astrid Brossier with her family – husband Stephane, 40, and children Josephine, five, and Oscar, eight.
The 36-year-old, originally from Bordeaux, France, only moved to Drayton three months ago and she has family in Paris.
She said: ‘We think it is terrible what happened and we wanted to show the kids that we need to stay united and that hope is stronger than fear.’
Also showing their support for Paris and making a stand against religious extremism were members of the Muslim community.
Sheikh Fazle Abbas Datoo, minister of religion at the Al Mahdi Centre, in Fareham, addressed the crowd, which included a wide range of people of all ages, before they set off.
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.’
Syed Aminul Haque, president of the Bangladesh Welfare Association, said: ‘No Muslim here in Portsmouth or in fact the world would condone the attacks.
‘Killing innocent people is not taken lightly and we condemn this attack. It was atrocious.’
‘We wanted to show the kids that we need to stay united and that hope is stronger than fear.’Astrid Brossier, 36, from Drayton
Marion Forgeot, student officer at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union, who is French, also spoke.
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.’
Passionate speeches were made on the Guildhall steps.
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 turned up for the event after the message was spread on Facebook.
Amy Hedley, 35, was with her mother Deborah Austin, 51, from Southsea.
Amy said: ‘It is important for everybody to show as much solidarity as possible towards France and Paris. 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.’
The Guildhall was lit in the red, white and blue of the French tricolore, as was the Spinnaker Tower.