The Jewish former chief executive of Manchester City Council has called for different communities “to continue to pull together” after Monday’s terrorist attack.
Sir Howard Bernstein, who led the council for two decades, retired from his position in April. He was instrumental in the rebuilding of Manchester’s city centre in the wake of the IRA bombing in 1996.
He described the latest attack, in which 22 people died in a suicide bombing at the Manchester Arena as “atrocious” and more traumatic than the IRA outrage.
He said: “This is worse, in my view, because although you can rebuild and repair buildings, what you can’t do is replace life which has been lost”.
Although buildings were destroyed and 212 people were injured in the 1996 attack, there were no deaths. By contrast, 22 people were killed in the act of terror on Monday night.
Sir Howard said that he had attended a Jewish community event in north Manchester on Tuesday night.
“Everyone is sickened by what’s happened,”
“It’s been done to our city and we’ve all got to continue to pull together to enable the city to continue to move forward”.
He said that the Jewish community could play its part “by continuing to communicate and promote the values of tolerance and respect, and working in and across communities in order to keep the city cohesive”.
Discussing such cross-communal efforts, the co-chair of the Muslim-Jewish forum in Manchester has spoken about how the city “must be united not only in grief but united against evil, united against fear and united in hope for our future”.
Mohammed Amin, who is also the Chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum, echoed the statement released by the Muslim-Jewish Forum in the wake of the terrorist incident, which condemned the “unbelievably evil attack on families and children”.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the bereaved and injured and all those who were at the Manchester Arena and who will be forever traumatised by what they experienced”, he said.
“Our thanks go to the police and emergency services for their speedy responses and to kind taxi drivers, hotels and the general public who helped out those caught up in this tragedy”.
He confirmed that the interfaith organisation in the city was not planning any special event as a response to the terror attack, but that a pre-planned event on June 18, a multifaith Iftar [evening meal breaking the Ramadan fast] at a mosque, would be going ahead.