Muslim community hosts meal for people affected by London tower blaze

Irshad Salim — Members of the North Kensington Muslim Community are laying on impromptu meals for those whose lives were ripped apart by the tragic Grenfell Tower blaze. More than 58 people are confirmed dead or missing, according to police officials.

Food is laid out on tablecloths on the pavement as those living nearby in one of London’s most ethnically diverse areas rallied round to help others.

Water, soft drinks, bread and food was on offer from Muslims who, at sunset, had broken their fast for the Iftar meal. This is being done almost daily.

There has been a huge voluntary response, with local churches and others also helping people. Donations have flooded in – too many now – such is the public response, reported BBC.

Local Muslims were also credited for saving lives on the night of the fire because they were still awake in the early hours of the morning for Sehri, as they observed Ramadan.

Zia Salik, head of fundraising at the charity Islamic Relief, said his team had worked around the clock to provide help, reported The Telegraph.

“There was a huge outpouring from the community to say ‘we want to do something’,” he told the Independent. Mr Salik, who lives nearby, had seen the fire from his window.

Meanwhile, Kensington residents are still looking for answers and information near the blaze site.

While the deadly blaze has prompted an outpouring of generosity, it has also unleashed fury at the authorities as the charred tower was cast as a deadly symbol of a divided society.

Protesters storm Kensington Town Hall on Friday afternoon as public anger mounts following the Grenfell Tower blaze.

According to media reports, there are many things fueling the anger felt at the site. The catastrophic loss of life is the primary factor, of course. But there is also the fact that people are finding it very difficult to get any information.

On Friday afternoon, several hundred protesters stormed Kensington Town Hall as public anger mounts. “There does not appear to be any central official point here on the ground where people can go to get answers and support. No marquee with “help centre” written on the side. No officials with lanyards guiding confused and desperate people to counselors,” reported BBC Radio 4 Today.

Some campaigners are said to be planning a “day of rage” to coincide with the Queen’s Speech this week in protest over the conditions they claim led to the blaze and the deaths of at least 70 people, reported several local media outlets.

Several groups are planning to march on Parliament on Wednesday in a show of anger at the Government’s austerity policies they say led to the tragedy.

There have been demands for answers as to how the blaze was able to engulf the 24-story building, trapping many on the upper floors, along with complaints that not enough was being done to provide assistance for people left homeless or information about those still missing.

Government and councils were warned repeatedly about fire safety experts’ fears over tower blocks as far back as 1999, According to The Guardian.

“The residents of Grenfell Tower were alarmed to discover smoke pouring from their electrical appliances in May 2013. Laptops, televisions, washing machines and fridges were damaged by an unexplained series of power surges that prompted the frightened occupants of the 24-story tower in west London to descend on their estate office, demanding action and answers.”

Residents feared the improvement works completed in 2016 had turned the building into a “fire trap”, according to an email sent in 2014 to the chief fire officer at Kensington fire station, the paper said.

Opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, London mayor Sadiq Khan, Prince William and Queen Elizabeth, 91, have all visited residents from the tower which housed around 600 people.

British Prime Minister Theresa May visited the injured in hospital on Friday but is herself under mounting criticism for not meeting victims of the blaze sooner.

After meeting residents, victims and community leaders affected by the fire, she pledged 5 million pounds ($6.39 million) of support, housing guarantees and help with access to bank accounts and cash.

“The package of support I’m announcing today is to give the victims the immediate support they need to care for themselves and for loved ones. We will continue to look at what more needs to be done,” May said in a statement issued by her office.

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