SHAFAQNA – Leading members of Britain’s Muslim community have attended a London church service to show solidarity with their Christian neighbours.
The Muslim men and women joined the congregation of St John on Bethnal Green for Sunday eucharist yesterday to demonstrate friendship and community in the wake of the brutal murder of Father Jacques Hamel in France.
The London diocese said the service was organised by Faith Matters, an integration campaign group, and the Rector of St John’s, the Rev Alan Green, “to confirm the importance of life within both faiths and to come together in the spirit of solidarity, empathy and care for the dignity and lives of each other.”
Among the Muslim guests were Dr Mamadou Bocoum, an imam, a lecturer in Islamic Studies and board member of the Muslim Law Council, Rabina Khan, a Tower Hamlets councillor, and Mohammed Amin, the first Muslim to become a partner with accountants Price Waterhouse in the UK.
St John’s has a long history of interfaith work in east London.
Father Green, chair of Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum, said: “Joining together today with respect for both Christianity and Islam, we encourage all – with or without a religious faith – to respond to violent provocation by actively proclaiming our values of hospitality, openness and freedom by our words and actions. We must not allow terrorists and criminals to undermine those values nor our commitment to them.”
Fiyaz Mughal of Faith Matters said: “It is essential that communities come together at times of national and international crisis. Muslims and Christians standing together at mass in France to commemorate those who have been targeted for their faith like Father Jacques, mean that we must make the effort to reach out. British Muslims today stand in solidarity at St John’s with their Christian brothers and sisters and the messages is clear, we will not let hatred win.”
Worshipper Debbie Frame said: “Our differences are not something to ignore but neither should they be feared. We are happy and willing to celebrate together, to learn about and from each other, and we will continue to live and work together today in this community as we did yesterday, and will do tomorrow.”
Mohammed Amin, who attended the service, said: “I was away from the UK visiting my son in America when Father Jacques Hamel was murdered by two young French Muslims. I believe that when faced by such barbarism all people of goodwill need to stand together. Today was my first chance to show my solidarity by attending a church service.
As a Muslim, I am outraged by the way bloodthirsty savages like the people in ISIS have hijacked my religion, and used it to justify hate and murder. All Muslims have a duty to resist them.”