The world has taken to Twitter to show their support for London following a terror attack that has left five people dead and 20 more injured. The hashtag #PrayForLondon has been trending since the attack took place around 3 p.m. local time today, March 22.
Among the Twitter users was U.S. President Donald Trump, who used his official @POTUS handle to “offer his condolences on today’s terror attack in London and his praise for the effective response of the security services.”
The attacks, which U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has described as “sick and depraved,” have also inspired Twitter users to create similar hashtags such as #WeAreNotAfraid, #LondonTogether, and #PrayForPeace.
Wednesday afternoon’s attack brought back memories of other recent terrorist incidents in London. Almost 12 years ago, the 7/7 bombings targeted the London transport network and left 52 dead and many injured. More recently, the 2013 killing of British Army soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, southeast London, bears a closer resemblance to today’s attack. The off-duty soldier was run over and stabbed repeatedly by extremists, The Guardian reported at the time.
Today’s attack in London began around 2:40 p.m. when the perpetrator mounted the pavement on the busy Westminster Bridge before slamming the car into the fences that surround the U.K. parliament building. Continuing on foot, the attacker entered the parliament compound and stabbed a police officer, who has since been named as PC Keith Palmer. He is one of the five victims who had died at the time of writing.
World leaders have offered their support to London.
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the London attack an assault on “freedom and democracy everywhere,” while French President Francois Hollande commented that France “knows how the British people are suffering today.” The victim of several terrorist attacks in recent years, France made its own public gesture of support for London by turning the Eiffel Tower’s lights off at midnight.
U.K. Foreign Minister Boris Johnson acknowledged this international outpouring of support for London through his own Twitter account.
London residents took to Facebook to declare themselves safe before turning to Twitter to seek support and solace. And there was plenty to be found there.
Mirroring the hashtag #PrayForParis, used in the wake of the attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, #PrayForLondon has been one way Twitter users have united in messages of support for the people of London.
After the Paris attacks, #PrayForParis was the strongest trending related hashtag on Twitter, being tweeted over 8 million times in the days that followed. Twitter has become a growing presence in the wake of such incidents, as its hashtags are a way to connect victims to the rest of the world. Similar statements of solidarity on Twitter have been seen in recent years, such as #JeSuisCharlie in 2015 and #IchBinEinBerliner in December of last year.
Memes of support have also populated Twitter in the hours since the attack in London. Many carry personal messages of support for London locals, as well as calls to retweet as a way of showing solidarity with the victims.
Across the U.K., tributes and acts of solidarity with London were also made public via Twitter. In Birmingham, the second largest city in the U.K. after the capital, the library was lit up in the colors of the Union.
As London comes to terms with today’s events, Twitter users will no doubt continue to create a sense of solidarity and unity in the wake of the latest act of violence. In the modern world of social media, it is a hashtag like #PrayForLondon that allows the world to show cities like London that they are not alone.
[Featured Image by Tim Ireland/AP Images]