Last night, as you all know, Manchester was hit with a horrific terrorist attack. One so sickening, so utterly abhorrent that targeted beautiful, innocent children. Whilst of course all terrorist attacks against anyone are completely heinous, it is something that feels so much different when it is so close to home.

Hearing the news as it came last night, I began by thinking little of it. All that was said what that an explosion occurred at the M.E.N Arena, a possible electrical fault that caused people to jump to conclusions and panic. Then came the news that it was a bomb with 22 dead and 59 injured, followed by the news that it was a suspected terrorist attack. I watched the news rolling of the horror that had taken place in my home town.

Beautiful little Saffie and Ariana superfan Georgina were amongst lives that were wrongly taken. Many children are stilling missing, and many are in hospital. What was meant to be a dream come true for many, a first ever concert, a chance to see their idol and to enjoy the beauty of music, turned into fear and terror. I pray for all of you, and I pray for the safety of everyone back in Manchester over this dark time.

Nevertheless, Manchester, you bring such warmth to my heart with you display of community, solidarity and sheer human kindness. Our wonderful NHS staff who worked through the night, hotels and fellow Mancunions with the hashtag #roomsformanchester offering a frees bed for people unable to get home, taxi drivers offering free rides to guide people to safety and cafes providing free food and beverages. You are incredible. You are simple and unequivocally incredible.

However, let’s not turn this act of unity into hate! Enough with Islamophobia and racism. Enough of blaming Muslims for the atrocious acts of ISIS. Religion is not a cult. Religion is not a militant group. Religion is way of life, a way of life that in any context promotes peace and love. No single person represents Islam. No true Muslim will ever advocate such barbaric attacks.

There was a time in my life, as an eight year old child, that I cried over moving to that great city, but over a decade later I could not be more proud and honoured to have spent the majority of my youth growing up in the north. Manchester is where my family live. Manchester is where my true friends are. Manchester is where I learnt to swim, to ride a bike, the place where I fell in love for the first time! Manchester is, and will always be, my home. The place that I’ll say I’m from. The place that, no matter where I end up, I’ll always return to.

When I next return at the beginning of June I’m going to take my morning runs around Platt Fields Park, catch my regular Magic Bus, have coffee and breakfast in the northern quarter, watch films at the AMC, strole around the Whitworth and Manchester Art Gallery, grab a Katsu at Wasabi, pre at Courtyard or The Font and dance at Factory or G-A-Y and embrace the life and colour that Manchester has to offer. I will carry about everything I adore about the city without the fear of cowardly, pathetic monsters stopping me. I love you always and forever Manchester. Two weeks cannot come quickly enough!


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