Zara Aleena: Hundreds join vigil for Londoner killed on walk home

  • Published
Family march at vigil
Image caption,
The crowd walked the 10-minute journey from where Zara was attacked to her home in Ilford

Hundreds of people gathered for a vigil dedicated to Zara Aleena, who was killed as she walked home from a night out.

The 35-year-old law graduate was minutes from her front door when she was attacked on Cranbrook Road in Ilford, east London, on Sunday.

Ms Aleena's family requested attendees wear white and remain silent as "we walk Zara home in our hearts".

They led the crowd as it began tracing the route she would have taken.

Many of those taking part in the walk held flowers and pictures of Ms Aleena and wore T-shirts bearing her image.

Image source, Met Police
Image caption,
Zara Aleena was attacked while walking home in east London on Sunday

It began at 14:17 BST opposite Cranbrook Rise on Cranbrook Road in Ilford.

Ms Aleena had been returning home from a night out at 02:17 on Sunday when she was dragged, kicked and stamped on, the Old Bailey heard on Friday.

As the walk came to an end, her aunt, Farah Naz, stopped yards from the family's home and turned to the crowd.

She said: "She was on the home stretch. Thank you so much for doing the walk and holding her in your hearts, praying for her, keeping her safe on this journey.

"At this point now, we ask you to go home and thank you so much for being here today because this is our Zara, this is our issue, this is something that we must all change, it must never happen again. Thank you for being here."

She then invited those who attended to place the flowers they had been carrying together on the ground.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Sharman Islam Siraj, 38, from Ilford, was among those honouring Ms Aleena.

"We are from the area, this is our home, this our community," she said.

"She was someone that we used to see all the time walking past our house, she was in the same school as my sister, she was just a local girl - and I feel like if this could happen to her, this could happen to anybody.

"It's shocking that it can happen to her, it's shocking that it happened here. I'm here to support the family, I'm here to show love, support, solidarity."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Ms Aleena's family say the vigil was to highlight the need to end violence against women

At the scene:

Ayshea Buksh, BBC London

Women and men, young and old joined Zara's family as they walked through Gants Hill along the route she had tried to make home.

Friends and supporters wore mourning white as they walked in silence.

One mother of four sons said she took her children to the vigil to ensure they respect women when they grew up.

While sombre in atmosphere, the mood was one of strength and defiance.Friends of Zara said she would have been proud of what they did today.

One message was clear: Zara was a "brave fearless and independent woman" who would never be forgotten.

Anjum Mouj, co-chair of London Black Women's Project - who was liaising with Ms Aleena's family, spoke with the crowd before the vigil got under way.

She said: "Grandma, mother, aunties, cousins, friends, family, have asked me to thank you from their heart, their heartfelt thanks for you all to be here, to do this walk with us to take Zara Natasha Aleena home, the steps that she couldn't take.

"She could see, it's in touching distance of her home, it's in touching distance, she could see her home almost and she couldn't walk there."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "All women should be able to walk home safely"

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "All women should be able to walk home safely.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to Zara Aleena's family and friends, who came together with others today to remember her life and complete her journey home."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Two women hug as they attend the vigil in Ilford

A post-mortem examination found she had suffered multiple serious injuries.

Jordan McSweeney, 29, of Dagenham, has been charged with Ms Aleena's murder, attempted penetration without consent and robbery.

He remains in custody.