Last week the world was rocked by news that several people were injured, some fatally, in a terrorist attack outside the Houses of Parliament in London. So far, four victims have been confirmed killed as a result of injuries sustained in the incident, in which a driver plowed his car through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before exiting and stabbing a police officer. Stories of and details about the tragic incident are still unfolding, but the UK is already taking steps toward healing. Organizers of the Women's March on London held a vigil at Westminster Bridge on March 26 to remember the victims of the recent terrorist attack that occurred there. And, standing hand in hand, Muslim women played a big part in not only honoring the victims and survivors but also showing opposition to violence in all its forms.
The Independent reported that people of many backgrounds took to the Bridge to link hands for the afternoon vigil on Sunday. And at 4 p.m., those gathered observed a moment of silence to remember those killed in the attack. And as much as the event was about remembering what had happened there, it was also about moving forward. Many people wore the color blue to represent hope. And one of the vigil organizers, Akeela Ahmed, emphasized to the Guardian the importance of "reclaiming" the site of London's latest terrorist attack.
The vigil came just before the first ever Muslim Women's Day, and Muslim women's spearheading of and participation in the event did not go unnoticed. One participant, Sarah Waseem, told the Independent, "When an attack happens in London, it is an attack on me. It is an attack on all of us. Islam totally condemns violence of any sort. This is abhorrent to us." And indeed Muslim women's visibility will continue to be important as the fight against violence, terrorism, and Islamophobia continues onward.
Many have written before about how Muslims are held to higher standards of condemning terrorism than any other religious groups. And this seems to be true especially in countries like the United States, where non-Muslim extremists are responsible for far more terrorist acts than Muslim ones. Muslims shouldn't have to disavow terrorism any more than Christians or Jews should, but that double standard is still at play.
Even so, several Muslim women in the UK took time and energy in the wake of the attacks to plan and show up for the vigil. Together, they've set an example for the world of how communities can productively move toward healing after experiencing immense tragedy, without letting hate get in the way.