LONDON (Reuters) - Londoners held a vigil to mourn the victims of the London Bridge attack on Monday and vowed not to be divided by extremist tactics, with the British capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan saying that the militants were bound to fail.
Thousands gathered on the banks of the River Thames to pay their respects, a few hundred yards away from where three militants rammed into pedestrians on London Bridge before stabbing revellers on Saturday night, killing seven.
“I wanted to come here to feel solidarity and to express something about togetherness,” said Georgina Hicks, a local resident. “The city has rebounded incredibly. Once the bridge opened up again this morning, people just went about their way.”
People of all ages braved the rain to pay their respects, with some breaking into tears during a minute of silence for the victims and staying behind to lay down flowers.
Mourners held signs with messages such as “hate will not divide us” and “stand up to racism”, while others carried balloons shaped as hearts.
Khan, the first Muslim mayor of a major western capital, said the Islamist extremists who targeted civilians in bars and restaurants were despicable and the city would be resilient in the face of the attack.
“London stands in defiance against this cowardly attack on our city, our people, our values and our way of life,” Khan said in a speech, flanked by politicians from across party divides, police officers and leaders from different faiths.
“As the mayor of London, I want to send a clear message to the sick and evil extremists who commit these hideous crimes.
“We will defeat you. You will not win,” he said.
Hazik Rahman from the Ahmadiyya Muslim community said the attackers had abused Islam, and that the event showed that the city would stand united in the face of extremism.
“This vigil shows the people that did this that they cannot divide us,” he said.
“I think Londoners have pulled together like we always do and have handled this well, even though we all feel the pain.”
Writing by Alistair Smout; Editing by Tom Heneghan