Muslim Londoners hand out 3,000 roses on London Bridge
Posted June 13
What started as a conversation with a florist turned into a movement to promote unity and interfaith relations in London.
More than a dozen London-based volunteers handed out 3,000 roses near the London Bridge on Sunday afternoon. It was the site of a terror attack on June 3 that killed seven people.
"We wanted to just celebrate unity at a time when our society was so divided from the attacks last week," volunteer Laila Rob said.
"We just felt really disheartened by what had happened," Rob told CNN.
The volunteers hugged passersby and cried with them as they shared stories with one another. What they discovered was that people enjoyed receiving the flowers -- but they enjoyed the conversations even more.
"It was more about the idea behind the rose than just giving out the rose," Rob said. "That's what we want to create: just an open platform for that dialogue."
Most of the volunteers are British Muslims, and some of the conversations centered on racial commonalities. Rob said it made her happy to see that emotion from strangers.
The idea to pass out the roses came from Zakia Bassou, 27, after talking with a florist from Zara Flora Flowers in East Grinstead, West Sussex.
Bassou and some friends started a crowdfunding group with an initial target of -600 ($765). They ended up raising more than -2,500, as of Tuesday afternoon.
Their goal was, "to raise money for 1000 roses which we'll gift on Sunday 11th June at London Bridge in an expression of love, solidarity and appreciation," the post read.
The money quickly poured in, and they ended up with more than triple the amount of roses they originally planned on buying.
Volunteers handed out about 3,000 and left 500 more at the memorial site for a vigil that happened later that night.
They still have money left over, too, and they plan to put it to good use. They hope to replicate the event soon but are still hashing out the details, Rob said.