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Immigrants Reach Out After Attack in Manchester


A Jewish woman named Renee Rachel Black and a Muslim man named Sadiq Patel react next to floral tributes in St Ann's Square in Manchester, May 24, 2017.

Monday night’s suicide bombing in Manchester has heightened fears of terrorism in Britain, but some immigrants and religious minorities are being lauded for their actions after the attack, which killed 22 people and injured 59 others.

Throughout the city, Sikh temples have kept their doors open, offering food and shelter to anyone in need.

Members of the Manchester Sikh Community attend a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, England, May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night.
Members of the Manchester Sikh Community attend a vigil in Albert Square, Manchester, England, May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association encouraged its members to donate blood.

And taxi drivers, many of whom immigrated from the Middle East and Africa, took passengers to hospitals, hotels and other locations without collecting fares.

VOA’s Somali service spoke to Abdurahman Isak Mohamed, a 46-year-old Uber driver who was two miles from the arena when he heard the bomb blast.

After hearing the sound, Mohamed knew something was wrong and drove toward the area to see if he could help. Upon seeing the frightened, fleeing concertgoers, he offered free rides and transported eight people to local hotels.

“It’s like our country here,” he said.

Muslim men pray for victims of the attack at Manchester Arena at a mosque in Manchester, May 23, 2017.
Muslim men pray for victims of the attack at Manchester Arena at a mosque in Manchester, May 23, 2017.

Mohamed said he acted without hesitation. “We live together, we work together, we stay together. That’s why we do [this]. When something bad happens, we can help each other,” he said.

Mohamed also said he wanted to return the favor of hospitality to the people of his adopted home country. “I am ready to work [voluntarily] because we live here. We stay here. That’s why we’re doing that — because it’s like our country here,” he said. “We live, we stay. The British people, they give us a good reception. They look after us.”

Women wait to take part in a vigil for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in central Manchester, Britain, May 23, 2017.
Women wait to take part in a vigil for the victims of an attack on concert goers at Manchester Arena, in central Manchester, Britain, May 23, 2017.

Like many Muslims in Britain, Mohamed was searching for answers after the attack. He emphasized the bombing does not represent his religion. “It’s disgusting. We are not happy about the situation,” he said.

That sentiment was echoed by the Muslim Council of Great Britain, which said the perpetrator would “face the full weight of justice, both in this life and the next,” according to The Telegraph newspaper.

The paper noted that flowers were laid near the site of the blast, along with a message that read, “It was a monster not a Muslim.”

Police officers stand guard close to Victoria Railway Station in Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017.
Police officers stand guard close to Victoria Railway Station in Manchester, Britain, May 24, 2017.

Heightened alert level

On Tuesday, the British government raised the country’s terror alert level to critical while the investigation into the attack continued.

Prime Minister Theresa May said that the suspected attacker, 22-year-old Salman Abedi, was born and raised in Britain, but his parents are from Libya. Abedi died in the blast.

There are about 13,000 Africans living in Manchester, according to 2011 census data. Nigerians make up most of Manchester’s African immigrants. There are also several thousand Somalis, Zimbabweans, Ghanaians, Kenyans and South Africans in the city.

Manchester’s overall immigrant population stands at 19 percent of its half million residents, twice the national average.

Embassies have warned young Africans to be vigilant. Raymond Maro, a Tanzanian student at the University of Bradford, about 60 kilometers from Manchester, said, “African embassies have cautioned students to be aware about security around them and report to local authorities any inconsistencies.”

VOA's Swahili Service contributed to this report.

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