In the wake of the horrific terrorist attack on the great city of Manchester, groups such as Britain First have been spreading their usual bile and hate. And while the circumstances surrounding what's happened is truly horrific, there should be no place for this racism and xenophobia in 21st Century Great Britain.
Being someone who lives a mere 30 minute train journey from Manchester, the attack on this wonderful city has struck me on a deep level. I couldn't help but feel utter devastation that the city I love has been attacked by a vile creature. When I was very young, four years old to be precise, I visited Manchester for what must have been the 20 or 30th time in my life to join in with the infamous 'Cow Parade'. For those of you who don't know what this was, it saw a lot of cow statues of different patterns and colours 'invade' the city. Our job was to find them. I'd never had so much fun in my life at this point. Going round the city searching for these beautifully coloured, eccentrically patterned cows was amazing. This is my greatest memory of the city, and one that I'll never lose.
Since this, I have visited Manchester numerous times over the years. My granddad has been an interior designer doing a lot of work in the city for decades now, and he sometimes took me along to all the pubs, hotels and buildings which he has helped shape. And of course, with my friends and family I have made many shopping trips. This is a city I have so many brilliant memories of, and there is a special place in my heart for it. It might not be the most beautiful city for many, but the atmosphere of this wonderfully diverse place always resonated with me.
When I heard of the attack at the Ariana Grande concert on the night of Monday 22nd, I felt a mixture of emotions. I stayed up following the news which in hindsight wasn't a good idea, with it being the night before two hugely important AS exams. But I felt distraught. At this point, the extent of the damage was unclear. But as events unfolded, I realised that the rumours of it being a balloon or a speaker exploding were untrue. It became clear that there was a terrorist attack.
The next morning I woke up to the news that 22 people were presumed dead, including young children. And I'll admit that before I left my house for the exams, I cried. Because these people went to a concert that should have been one of the greatest times of their life. When I found out that an eight year old girl had died, words can't describe my emotions. Disgust, devastation, heartbreak. Those are the best I can do. And with the names of more young people and some adults coming through, I felt more and more upset. The man who did this, the people involved. They are scum. Utter scum. I can't even describe them as human beings because quite simply putting it, they aren't. And with that we come to my next point. They aren't Muslims.
The vast majority of Muslims are kind and peaceful people. Yes, the Qur'an is ambiguous and open to interpretation, but at the end of the day, those who use it as an excuse to cause the death of young children are disgusting. They can't be described as Muslim. Only Extremists. Hiding behind the Muslim religion is unfair and brings disrepute to the many good people who are of that religion. In fact a lot of the taxi drivers who drove people away from the arena were Muslim.
To my disgust, I have seen many people sharing Britain First's vile hate speech. 'Ban the Burka', 'Close the borders', 'Deport Muslims'. Just a few examples of the nonsense I have heard. Only one group of people benefits from this hate. The Terrorists. If we give in to this bile, they win. The only way we can defeat the terrorists is by the whole of Britain uniting together as one community. Muslims, Christians etc. All as one group fighting the terrorists.
Ban the Burka? That's a direct assault on human rights. It solves NOTHING. You think this stops terrorists? Because all it will do is breed a culture of racism and xenophobia that terrorists will leach onto. We will become even more of a target. This kind of bile is disgusting. Do we ban the Irish from the UK because of the IRA? No. Did we ban the Catholic religion from the UK after the revelation that some priests were sexually assaulting children? No. So why should we ban Muslims and Burkas because a small minority of extremists who call themselves Muslim attack us. It's as if people think that none of us white people can do any harm! We bomb other countries, kill hundreds of innocents. We are involved in dodgy deals that have caused pain to other countries and their people. We aren't perfect, so some people need to get off their racist, xenophobic high horse and come back to reality. Britain First disgust the vast majority of British people, and rightly so. We are a country of decency and kindness. Why should we let a group of vile creatures change that? Because if we give into the kind of hatred Britain First and other racist groups want, then the terrorists win.
Look at the city of Manchester after this horrific, inhumane attack. Thousands of them gathered outside the City hall to show their respects for the dead and injured. Many Muslim's attended. Did they get attacked? No they didn't, because the people of Manchester are simply brilliant. They joined together as one city, as one community to support each other through this harrowing time. This is what the whole of Britain needs to do.
One last thing needs to be said though. I love Manchester. And I love people. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and I will let them have their opinions. But all I'm trying to do is show that there is an alternative. Action needs to be taken, yes. I'm not saying let's just ignore the threat of terrorism. And I'm not politicising this. But all we can do is work as one to root out the terrorists and assist our brilliant emergency services as much as possible. The police will protect us. The government, as much as I don't like the Tories and Theresa May, have a duty to protect us, and I hope they will.
To the families of all those who lost their lives, you are in my thoughts. I send you my deepest condolences from the bottom of my heart. And to those who are injured, I wish you all the best in your recovery. This is the worst event in my living memory (I don't remember the 7/7 bombings), and nothing upsets me more than to see so many people die, especially the youngest fatalities. This attack has left me deeply saddened, and the families of the deceased are in my thoughts.