LONDON: Crowds draped in Belgian flags gathered for a vigil in central London on Thursday in solidarity with those affected by the attacks in Brussels.
Standing under drizzling rain, men, women and children lit candles and left flowers by a 25-metre flag that stretched over the steps of Trafalgar Square in the centre of the capital.
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"We are here to say no to terrorism. I am a Syrian, I am a Muslim and I am a refugee in Europe and what has happened in Belgium absolutely broke my heart so I am here to show solidarity to the Belgian people," said Abdulaziz Almashi, 30, a Syrian refugee and campaigner.
"Those people aren't Muslims... they don't represent Islam, they don't represent our culture and our values," he said of the perpetrators.
The vigil follows tributes in which London landmarks were lit up in the black, yellow and red of the Belgian flag after the Wednesday attacks on Brussels airport and a metro station, which killed 31 people and injured another 600.
Kris Nathanael, 27, who works as a regulator in London, said the show of solidarity was comforting for Belgians like her, living away from home.
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"It's just shocking, it's people who get up and go to work and they say goodbye to the people they love and they never see them again," said Nathanael as she welled up with tears.
"I have seen all the flags... A lot of countries have done it and it means a lot," she added.
The gathered crowds shared beers, chanted "everybody together" and sang the Belgian national anthem.
The Belgian ambassador to Britain, Guy Trouveroy, said it was a bittersweet gathering that showed both sadness and solidarity.
Candles were left by the flag "as a symbol of this tragedy, a small thing, but a way for us to remember," Trouveroy said.
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