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Manchester Sends Out a Big Message: #turntolove

#turntolove was the watchword last Tuesday in Manchester. Hordes of people converged in Albert Square, in the city centre, to remember the victims of last year’s attack which left 22 people dead.

Posters and placards and tees and banners, all displaying a message of unity, hope and solidarity were proudly displayed by many. The merch was handed out by a number of Muslim-based community groups. Earlier on in the day, they took part in a multi-faith march which remembered the 22 souls that the city of Manchester lost on that fateful day last May.

A member of the group, Fesl Reza-Khan, told reporters that their main aims were to break down social barriers, reinforce Manchester’s sense of unity and to honour those who had lost their lives. “Sometimes people think the Muslim community doesn’t go out and protest against terrorists enough and of course this happened right on our doorstep,” he says. “This is my city that was attacked, these were our brothers and sisters that were killed so we were very, very angry.

He added: “This morning we were at the Cathedral service and the more sombre aspects, sharing in the sorrow, and now it’s time to heal together and use music to heal each other.”

Since May last year, Reza-Khan’s community group has collaborated with others to put on a bunch of community-based, multi-faith events in towns like Oldham and Rochdale. “We’ve been doing a whole bunch of work,” he said. “Just trying to connect with each other. Because too often, although we go to work with each other, we go to school with each other, we don’t actually share each other’s lives. That’s what we want to do.”

“Let’s start identifying as Mancunians; start sharing our experiences and griefs and sorrows – and happiness.” Inspirational stuff. If this is going to happen anywhere, it’s probably going to be Manchester. It is, after all, a unique place; nowhere else is the resilience, unity and strength quite so evident – you can sense it bubbling on the surface of the city.

Perhaps the most impressive tribute on the day, however, came from this awesome runner. He ran a very particular 67-mile route around the city, so that the GPS route showed a heart with the letters ‘MCR’ inside.

Check out his sick handiwork…

Nathan Rae, a 37-year-old filmmaker who runs marathons during his spare time, ran for 18 hours straight in order to create this ‘GPS art’. He made sure to pass key landmarks associated with last year’s attack – Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital who treated some of the victims, fire stations where some brave first responders came from and Manchester Arena itself.

Rae told reporters from the Manchester Evening News that he chose the heart shape ‘to celebrate the city’s response to the attack’. “The bombing was awful but the response afterwards by Manchester was just amazing and I wanted to capture the spirit of that a year later,” he said. “I picked the heart shape because there was a piece of artwork in Manchester with 22 bees and a heart around it. I couldn’t draw a bee on the map, so I went for the heart.”

An appalling and morally reprehensible act was committed last year, with the aim to divide the people of Manchester. But, in the end, it served to bring them together.

#turntolove

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