Monday, 27 September 2021

Vigil held encouraging support of Paris victims

A HENLEY man held a vigil in the town square in support of the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks

A HENLEY man held a vigil in the town square in support of the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks.

Adrian Denning said he felt compelled to act after the attacks by Islamic extremists in the French capital earlier this month, which left 130 people dead.

Mr Denning, 73, of Mount View Court, set up a display in Market Place and approached residents and visitors, encouraging them to donate to the Sweet Stuff Foundation.

The charity, which usually helps musicians suffering from illness or disability, was set up by Josh Homme, occasional drummer with Eagles of Death Metal, the band that was playing at the Bataclan theatre where 89 people were shot dead.

The band?s merchandise manager Nick Alexander was among the victims.

Mr Denning said: ?I was obviously aware of what happened in Paris and it really affected me.

?I felt so strongly about what happened and why it happened that I decided on the spur of the moment to do something, an act of support for the French.

?John Homme has pledged that every penny raised in December will go to the families of the victims and I thought that was a worthy thing to do.

?I set up in the town centre and talked to people but made it clear I was not collecting.

?One guy, who said he was a musician, even got out his wallet and gave me £10.

?I told him I wasn?t collecting but really appreciated what he had done ? it made me feel good.?

Mr Denning spent more than seven hours in the town and spoke to about 40 people, many of whom promised to donate to the charity.

His display featured the French tricolor, newspaper clippings and a statement which read: ?We in Henley express our deep condolences to the French in their pain over events in Paris and support the French Government?s drive to eliminate the forces of Daish (Isil).? Mr Denning also wore a badge with the message ?#Not In My Name?, a movement started by Muslims around the world to renounce Isis.

He said: ?A lot of people just glanced at me and walked by. I?m not sure if it was embarrassment or apathy or they just thought I was asking for money.

?There were a lot of visitors to the town on Sunday and children seemed very interested. I think because of their inquisitive nature they stopped to read and brought their parents over.

?People were generally very supportive and there was no aggravation.

?I do worry about attitudes towards Muslims because of this and that?s why I wear the badge, which says this was not Islam but some mad men who have their religion wrong.?

Mr Denning has lived in Henley for 12 years and previously spent time in Tunisia. He became interested in Islam when he went to a talk in Vancouver.

He said: ?I have an avid and passionate interest in history, especially of the Middle East and North Africa.

?I have an affinity with Islam and believe what?s going on at the moment in their name is abysmal so I wanted to do something about it.

?I believe the biggest quality we humans have is the ability to change our minds but not enough of us do. If we can get ISIS to change their minds things would improve dramatically.?

Mr Denning supports military action against ISIS and says Europe has an obligation to help.

He said: ?I do think we need to go in with ground forces. Bombs do something but won?t get rid of ISIS. These people are trying to create a war between Islam and the West.?

For more information or to make a donation to the charity, visit

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