Muslim man who offered hugs to strangers after Manchester attack on why it was the ‘best thing’ he’s done in his life

  • By ITV News Multimedia Producer Nitya Rajan

A Muslim man's 'act of kindness' following the Manchester terror attack a year ago has been recognised in a series of art displays around the city.

Three days after a suicide bomber in the Manchester Arena killed 22 people last May, 23-year-old Baktash Noori, who vlogs as Bako, stood blindfolded in the city centre offering people hugs.

He told ITV News: “My mum being as protective as she is, she told me not to go out because I was a brown young Muslim man.

“I think the main thing that affected me was people quickly pointing fingers and having that thought within your own city you feel unsafe, it’s not good.

“I stood out in St Ann’s Square, with my arms out and a cardboard sign that said ‘I’m a Muslim, I trust you. Do you trust me?’”

The city’s response to Bako’s gesture was heartening.

In the video recording posted on YouTube, one Mancunian is heard telling the vlogger: “It’s a fantastic catch in what you are doing.

“And I think it’s the best thing I’ve seen all day.”

Another passerby told him: “We’re all the same wherever we are.”

His interactions have been captured by artist Ghislaine Howard, with her paintings on show in the city.

“The paintings represent a form of trust, hope and that we as a community in Manchester, we will always stick together, no matter whether you’re a Christian, a Muslim, whether you’re an atheist, whether you’re white, brown, black you name it, we’re always going to stick together,” Bako said.

The artwork is part of a series of anniversary events being held across the city this week as it stands in solidarity with those who lost loved ones in the attack.

The prime minister and Prince William attended a memorial service at Manchester Cathedral on Tuesday, and more than than 3,000 singers from local choirs will perform at the "Manchester Together – With One Voice" event in the city’s Albert Square in the evening.

At 10.31pm, bells will ring out from the city’s Town Hall, St Ann’s Church and St Mary’s RC Church to mark the moment when the attack took place 12 months ago.