UPDATE: The woman in the photo has broken her silence, sharing a statement with TellMAMA, a UK organization that tracks anti-Muslim abuse and offers help to victims. She has chosen to remain unnamed.
After the realization that a terror attack had taken place, the distraught woman looked for ways to help before she contacted her family, but before leaving, she also provided help to a woman who needed to get to the Waterloo station on her way home.
The statement reads:
"I’m shocked and totally dismayed at how a picture of me is being circulated on social media. To those individuals who have interpreted and commented on what my thoughts were in that horrific and distressful moment, I would like to say not only have I been devastated by witnessing the aftermath of a shocking and numbing terror attack, I’ve also had to deal with the shock of finding my picture plastered all over social media by those who could not look beyond my attire, who draw conclusions based on hate and xenophobia."
Adding that her thoughts at the moment were “of sadness, fear and concern,” she thanked the photographer for standing by her. She also sent her thoughts to all the victims and their families.
An image of a terrified woman walking past a victim of the London terror attack has been picked up by anti-Islam blogs and used as “evidence” that people who subscribe to the faith are indifferent to suffering. Unfortunately for their agenda, the collectivist and misinformed comments couldn't be farther from the truth.
In reality, the photographer who snapped the image, Jamie Lorriman, said that the picture clearly shows a woman who is terrified, adding that his photograph has been “misappropriated.”
The photograph shows the woman in hijab walking past a group of people gathering around an injured person on Westminster Bridge. She looks distressed, and while her phone is in one hand, her left hand is pressed against her cheek.
To many on social media, this shows a lack of concern on her part, but Lorriman said that the “people who took on that picture are being rather selective.” Once you look at the second picture he took of the same scene, you can tell “she looks truly distraught … personally I think she looks distressed in both pictures.”
He added that the fact that the picture was “misappropriated in that way” is just wrong.
Many suggested that singling out this photo is absurd, as there were many others snapped that day showing much more unconcerned bystanders.
On Twitter, misguided and prejudiced users pointed to the image to claim there were fundamental differences between Muslims and Christians.
Many responded by saying that several images of the London terror attack showed people using their phones. Who wouldn't call or text friends and family to let them know they were doing all right?
If anything, the woman in the picture was just in shock at the horror of that entire scene.
Some disgusting hateful memes spreading re #Westminster of a young woman in hijab most likely in deep shock & calling family/friends. V sad— Amy Ashenden (@AmyAshenden) March 22, 2017
Speaking to The Guardian, Lorriman confirmed both pictures show a woman in distress.
“She’s in the middle of an unfolding horrific scene ... I think her expression to me says that she’s horrified by what she’s seen and she just needs to get out of the situation.
We were all being told to clear the bridge at various stages, so it’s not unreasonable to think she’d been told to leave the bridge at some point just like everybody else.”
But despite the negative comments surrounding the image, Lorriman said that the stronger reaction came from those who rushed to her defense — that is enough reason to still have faith in mankind.
“People going, ‘you weren’t there, you didn’t see it, you’ve no idea what that woman’s thinking, so how can you possibly assume that she’s just casually on her phone?'
It’s good to see that that seems to be the overwhelming response to the messages that are being put out there by certain people.”
“I feel so sorry for the woman in the picture. If she’s seen this, she must feel awful,” he added.
She must have definitely felt bad for having her image used as a prop by those who are filled with hate and prejudice. But at least by now, she must have known that a much larger group of people have come to her defense — and that alone should brighten her day.