Web site shows defiance to bombers
Thousands send images to say 'We are not afraid'
By CNN's Rachel Clarke
Contributors to werenotafraid.com doctored images from London's transport system.
LONDON, England (CNN) -- Web designer Alfie Dennen had called in sick and was at home in London when the bombers struck across the city's transport network on Thursday morning.
As he watched the tragedy unfold, he received a picture sent by mobile phone of his friend Adam Stacey holding a sock to his mouth as he was evacuated from an Underground train at King's Cross, one of the stations worst affected.
The 29-year-old South African native posted the photo on his Web log as he began to hear reactions from other friends and colleagues.
"They were expressing great strength that they wouldn't let these things worry Londoners," Dennen told CNN.com. "I thought it would be great to have a place where people could share these feelings."
And within two hours http://www.werenotafraid.com/ was born, asking for images and messages from the worldwide online community to show that terrorists would not change the way people lived their lives.
Two hours after that, "we became inundated," Dennen said. "We weren't prepared for it ... the images were just coming in, people were finding the site and posting comments."
The photos show people, pets or London landmarks, all with the added message that "We are not afraid."
By 10 a.m. Monday, four days after the blasts, about 3,500 images had been submitted and more than 1,000 posted on the site. Dennen said some 250,000 people had visited the site.
On Tuesday, he said the site had drawn 11 million hits since it was created, with 20 messages per minute flooding in.
"It has become a platform for support for people quite literally from every corner of the globe," he said.
What was first picked up by bloggers and then European news organizations became a worldwide phenomenon, but with one voice and one message.
"There's a lot of people from the States and from Madrid who feel a kinship and deeper understanding of what we have been going through," Dennen said, but many more are just people who may not even have visited London but want to express their support.
"We had one from China," Dennen said. "But they are [also] from places Italy, Brazil, Poland, Japan, South Africa, Nigeria -- all over basically.
"It's given people an outlet to show that they can take action that doesn't help the terrorists," he said.
"We will not be cowed by it."
But the simple act of defiance is as far as Dennen says he wants people to go. He does not want to see political or militaristic messages on the site or any move towards a backlash against parts of society.
That had led the team of six working around the clock updating the site to start vetting messages before they are published, after some right-wing postings were sent in.
"It became hate filled war-mongering. We simply won't have offensive content of that nature on the site. But the overwhelming tone is one of great support and positivity," he said.
With reminders of the attacks all around, werenotafraid.com may have a role to play for some time yet.
"The site will stay up for as long as it has a place in people's minds," Dennen said.
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