Bombing at Manchester Ariana Grande concert kills 22, injures more

“broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

Ariana Grande tweeted this shortly after the bombing at her concert in Manchester, United Kingdom on May 22nd, 2017. 22 people died, and a reported 60+ have been injured. The number could be closer to around 75 at the time of writing this article, some of which are in critical care. As well as the physically injured, many people have been left potentially traumatized by the events at the concert.

As a result of the bombing, Ariana and her team have cancelled tour dates through June 5th , and have promised refunds for tickets purchased for those concerts. This was done to take the time to mourn the victims of the attack and stand together in times of violence. Of the people who passed away, their ages ranged from 8 to 50+. All the relatives have been informed according to the UK police, and some of the relatives’ comments on the victims have been posted online, along with heartwrenching comments on how they were great people and lived wonderful lives that were unfortunately cut short due to this cowardly act of violence to the Manchester residents and concert attendees. Victims all had incredible stories, including Martyn Hett, a PR specialist with over 12000 followers on Twitter. He also, as stated on his website, writes articles about, “strong women and low culture.” This is just one person in a glimpse of a large number of stories. Each individual’s life was truly valued by their friends and family, and Twitter has shown that through the massive support and bereavement of this event.

Now of course, knowing the large span of social media, some racism and Islamophobia has popped all around Twitter and Facebook. A lot of people are saying the usual; that people like this who are let into the country are not good and we need bars and rules and regulations, etc. Spewing some hateful and racist comments, these were quickly stomped by the influx of positivity from Twitter users all over the globe. If you read the replies on Ariana Grande’s tweet, which has since amassed over 1 million retweets, they’ve been very supportive of her and reassure her that it’s not her fault, and that everyone should do what they can to help. Twitter has also been helping locate missing persons of the attack. Various users, including those attending the concert and not, have been retweeting images of people at the concert who were missing, in hopes to connect loved ones through the website. Twitter user @RileyBlackery was looking for her friend Heather who was at the concert. Apparently, her phone was dead and she could not get into contact with her, sparking worry. However, just over an hour later, @nathanlamb26 responded with a picture of her safe at an inn, reuniting the two in a short amount of time. Social media can play a powerful role in events like this, and I’m glad to see Twitter using it to its full potential and it warms my heart that it works in a very quick manner.

A culprit was found for the bombing. Salman Ramadan Abedi, a Libyan 22-year old man who was born in Manchester, was said to have ties with Libyan refugees. He was the one who activated the bomb, killing himself in the explosion. Salman was supposedly identified by a bank card found in his pocket. Five others were arrested in the attack from suspicion, but Salman was deemed the culprit. He was always described as normal growing up, according to family members and relatives. His family had returned to Libya after fleeing from Gaddafi’s rule, and Salman stayed behind with his older brother. However, just recently, neighbours have described him as a man who often was wearing traditional Islamic clothing, becoming more religious and withdrawing from the community. He was apparently chanting the first Kalima (an Islamic prayer) loudly in the street in Arabic. (The first Kalima translates to “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his messenger.”) According to France’s interior minister, he had ties with the Islamic State, and had also recently travelled to both Libya and Syria before the attack, which raises suspicions of his mindset before the attack. He most likely had help making the bomb that went off, as they found in his garage many unused chemicals which could potentially be used for other explosive devices. Although no official claim has come from ISIS, Salman could have been part of another terrorist organization; but that doesn’t matter at this point. What matters is that it happened. His parents and brother were questioned back in Libya, and his father denied their personal involvement in their attack, as they did not believe in killing; that wasn’t them. He was still arrested. Salman’s brother apparently knew of the attack, and when the news struck online, he knew Salman was behind it. Not only that, but a Libyan anti-terror official has told AP (Associated Press) that Salman called his mother hours before the attack saying “forgive me.” Shortly after the bombing occurred, US sources began to leak information to the media, which Trump says affects the national security of the US. Theresa May, Prime Minister of United Kingdom, has threatened the US by saying it could affect the country’s ties to have this information. It should stay within the UK to keep it as accurate as possible.

So why does this happen? I’m no expert on ISIS/terror organized crime, but targets like big stadiums that are attacked can incite more fear for the religion. Islamophobia is ALWAYS brought up in crises like these, but any time it’s not a Muslim man, it’s washed off as non-terror. The individual is at fault, not Islam. Remember that. People are asked to stick together in this time of hardship and not let discrimination get in the way.

And the UK has been doing just that. A homeless man, Chris Parker, who was begging nearby the concert aided victims through the emergency exit process. One woman even died in his arms. As a result, the community has created a gofundme which raised over 30000 pounds for him. Other gofundmes have also been created to help victims fund funerals, as well as general bereavement costs. It’s a harsh reality, but the UK (and presumably worldwide supporters) seem eager to contribute what they can. Parker wasn’t the only one. Paula Robinson, who was just outside the concert walking with her husbanded, helped locate around 50 women to a nearby inn to contact their relatives. Stephen Jones was a nearby resident who woke up by blast. He said he, “wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he’d just walked away.” Along with various good Samaritans, the Queen has also visited victims of the attack in hospitals. This shows the severity and critical nature of the bombing, to which the nations’ police, citizens, and administration replied appropriately in a time of great danger.

Lots of people in the area have been providing ongoing emergency services, including free coffee, sleep, and even free taxi rides. The hashtag #RoomForManchester went around Twitter to help victims and other concert attendees escape as soon as possible from the venue. Even the blood bank had to close. Why? Too many people lined up to donate blood to victims and they were overcapacitated. Especially for O- blood groups, they encouraged people to continue in the coming days to donate blood to victims. Muslims rallied together to help too. Muslim Youth UK commented, “We stand together as a united nation. Ahmadiyya Muslims extend our deepest condolences to the victims of this barbaric act in Manchester.” They remind us that it was a monster who committed this crime, not a Muslim. It warms my heart to see such solidarity across religions in races in times of despair.

An official donation drive was set up, which has since raised 1.5 million pounds for the British Red Cross, which is then sent to families of the victims of the attack. If you want to help, donating to the various gofundmes and the official page is a great way to start, as well as dissociating any ties with Islam having to do with terrorism. Just stay informed so that more people don’t equate Islam with terrorism and incite fear in people’s hearts, which bring forth more attacks and make enemies. Ariana has even released a statement for holding a benefit concert to help raise money for victims and families. Since the attack on the 22nd to the writing of this article (about 3-4 days) so much has been done to help the community in a short period of time, but more can always be done. If you know some way that you can help those of Manchester, please do the best you can to help the city recover from such a tragic event.

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