Friday, 5 August 2011

WE CONDEMN THIS VIOLENCE

This letter appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
We condemn this violence
As leaders of Leicester's long-standing Christian-Muslim Dialogue Group we wish to extend our deepest sympathies to all those impacted by the terrible murders in Oslo and Utoeya, in Norway.
Anders Behring Breivik has admitted responsibility, stating that he was motivated by a desire to fight to preserve a "Christian Europe", especially against the influence and growth of Islam.
Of course, all right-thinking people will condemn Breivik's violent response but we are concerned that his underlying ideology of suspicion and hatred may be shared more widely.
We condemn this act and all similar actions of violence which purport to be in the name of our respective faiths. Christianity and Islam have contributed greatly to advancing human rights and social justice, not only in the UK but throughout the world. We must never let those who espouse violence act in our name.
By way of contrast, our experience in Leicestershire tells us that this viewpoint presents a fundamentally false understanding of both of our major world religions, which speak not of hatred and intolerance, but of compassion and respect.
An example is our annual joint Christian-Muslim charity dinner which raises thousands of pounds for the poor and disadvantaged in the UK and abroad.
We have found that we are well able to co-exist in mutual trust and understanding, and to work together for the good of wider society.
We encourage Christians and Muslims everywhere to live up to this vision of adhering to the best that their faiths offer.
Canon Dr John Hall, Director, St Philip's Centre, Suleman Nagdi, MBE, DL, Federation of Muslim Organisations, Daud Sameja, co-chair, Christian Muslim Dialogue Group, Rev Peter Hobson, co-chair, Christian Muslim Dialogue Group.

Of the four signatories to this letter, two (John Hall and Suleman Nagdi) are actively involved in Leicester Council of Faiths.

As well as being published in the paper's Mercury Mailbox, this statement also appears on the St Philip's Centre website. That site includes a response to a message of sympathy sent from John Hall to the Fjell Congregation, Drammen in the Church of Norway with whom the Centre has links.

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