Oxford Stand Up to Racism has called for a vigil to be held at the Carfax Tower from 5.30pm on Friday 24th March.
The event coincides with a similar occasion on the same day outside Downing Street, the “Unity Vigil Against Hatred and Division”. This has also been organised by Stand Up to Racism, in conjunction with the charity Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND).
The description to the Oxford vigil’s Facebook event expresses concern about how yesterday’s attack on Westminster, which left five dead including the attacker, is already being co-opted by far-right groups. It states: “We cannot let these attacks be used by the racists to divide us. Already, the far right group Britain First have used this attack as an excuse to call a ‘march’ in London to spew their racism, hatred and division.”
Four victims of the attack have been named, as PC Keith Palmer, Spanish teacher Aysha Frade, and American tourist Kurt Cochran. A fifth, a 75-year old man, has since died of his injuries. 40 remain hospitalised, with seven in a critical condition.
An additional attempt to capitalise on the events came from Tommy Robinson,former leader of the English Defence League, who appeared to reporters at Westminster within minutes of the incident occurring.
Stand Up to Racism Co-Convenor Weyman Bennett said in a response to the attack: “Our thoughts are with those killed or injured in the Westminster attack and their families. We need to stand together against all those who seek to divide us. We are black, white, Muslim and Christian living together.We have to remain vigilant against those who want to profit from division, especially the far right. It is crucial that we stand united in such difficult times. I urge people who feel the same to join Friday’s vigil.”
Dr Shazad Amin, CEO of MEND, said: “We are shocked and saddened by the act of mindless violence that took place at Westminster and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones and with those that were injured during this incident. This act of violence is utterly deplorable and one that will find no room in any community.
“We stand firmly against anyone who wishes to use this tragic incident to create fear and divisions in our society. Only last weekend over 30,000 people marched in solidarity against all forms of hate, and we reiterate our commitment to Stand Up to Racism, Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of hate.”
Oxford Town Hall and multiple colleges have flown their flags at half-mast to mark Wednesday’s events.