PRIME MINISTER David Cameron has declared that Britain would not “give up our way of life or cower in the face of terrorism” as plans were made for a national minute’s silence for the victims of the Tunisian beach massacre.
A total of 38 people, including up to 30 Britons, died after 23-year-old student Seifeddine Rezgui opened fire in the holiday resort of Sousse on Friday.
Suspected associates of the beach gunman have now been arrested by police in Tunisia.
Announcing a nationwide minute’s silence at midday on Friday, Mr Cameron said: “I know the whole country will want to share in a moment of remembrance.” The Prime Minister, who earlier described the “existential threat” posed by IS as “the struggle of our generation”, told the Commons: “We will not give up our way of life or cower in the face of terrorism.”
He added: “This is not the war between Islam and the West which Isil want people to believe - it is a generational struggle between a minority of extremists who want hatred to flourish and the rest of us who want freedom to prosper - together we will prevail.” And he said Britons were not being advised to stay away from Tunisia’s coastal resorts,
American President Barack Obama phoned the Prime Minister to offer his condolences over the loss of British life and to voice continued US support in the wake of the attack.
“The leaders discussed the importance of working together with countries like Tunisia to tackle the threat posed by Islamist extremism,” a No 10 spokesman said.
Home Secretary Theresa May, who flew out to Tunisia, laid flowers and observed a period of silence at the scene of the attack.
She said: “How could a place of such beauty, of relaxation and happiness, be turned into such a scene of brutality and destruction?” She said she had heard “horror stories” of those caught up in the attack and accounts of “great bravery”, including Mathew James, who was hit in the hip, chest and pelvis as he shielded wife-to-be Saera Wilson from gunfire.
Mrs May held talks with Tunisian, German, French and Belgian ministers on addressing the threat posed by IS.
“We are very clear that the terrorists will not win. We will be united in working together to defeat them, but united also in working to defend our values,” she said.
Downing Street said all British nationals injured would be returned within the next 24 hours. And Mr Cameron’s spokeswoman said that UK authorities were “working closely” with relatives of those killed to offer help with their repatriation.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu has offered his condolences to the families of British holiday makers murdered in Sousse. He said: “At times such as these, words can seem so limited and futile in the face of brutality and horror. To the bereaved and to those who were wounded in the attack - you are in the thoughts and prayers of many of us.
My thoughts also go to the family of the manager beheaded by his driver in Lyon, France; and to those murdered and injured in Kuwait.
“There is a yearning amongst so many people to respond to these acts, to respond in a way which builds up rather than destroys.”