The funeral has begun for British soldier Lee Rigby, who was killed in broad daylight by two alleged Islamic extremists. Rigby, a fusilier in the army, was stabbed to death on May 22 near his army barracks.
Over a thousand supporters, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, gathered at the military funeral of Lee Rigby in Bury, England on Friday.
Ahead of the funeral, relatives of Rigby say they are deeply grateful for the support they have received from the public. The May 22 attack inspired spontaneous memorials at the scene of the crime.
"There are so many kind and generous people out there," Rigby's widow, Rebecca, said in a pool interview before the funeral. "It's just horrible that it takes something such as this to make you see how many good people there are."
Rigby, 25, was killed on May 22 in Woolwich, southeast London near his army barracks. One of the suspects - his hands still bloody - boasted on a video widely broadcast by the media that the murder was in retaliation for British military involvement in Islamic countries. The two men charged with Rigby's killing - Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22 - will stand trial starting Nov. 18.
Prime Minister David Cameron described the murder of Rigby as a "betrayal of Islam."
Since Rigby's death, anti-immigrant groups have carried out a series of attacks on perceived Islamic targets, among them mosques and community centers. Critics say the far-right English Defence League has exploited the killing.
'Like a kid'
"He just wanted to put a smile on everyone's face," Rebecca said, recalling her husband as bubbly and energetic. "He lived his life like a kid in a candy shop." The pair had a two-year-old son together, Jack.
Rigby's parents said they hoped the day would offer "respect and dignity" for the soldier.
"His job meant the world to him, being in the army," said his father, Ian. "But his family still came first."
mkg/hc (AFP, AP)