Saturday, 4 February 2012


This article is published in today's Leicester Mercury:
Faith groups unite in eve-of-protests vigil
A multi-faith service has celebrated the unity of Leicester's religions and ethnic groups ahead of today's protests.
The Vigil for Leicester, held at the cathedral last night, was attended by Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, atheists and members of the Bahá'í faith.
The congregation of about 400 lit candles, described by Canon Barry Naylor as "a sign of light and hope overcoming all that is dark and evil".Welcoming the congregation, the dean, Vivienne Faull, said: "This is a very significant event on the eve of a day when there are those who want to divide us.
"We come to reflect and pray and remember that we together affirm that good is better than evil, love better than hate."
Hindu assistant city mayor Manjula Sood, who is also chairman of Leicester Council of Faiths, said: "We work in the support of love and kinship.
"In our city and county different faiths exist and flourish.
"There is no room for evils like hatred and racism."
Members of other faiths and no faith took turns to speak before lighting a candle.
Eleanor Davidson, a humanist, said of English Defence League members: "We all have to try to work out ways of engaging with these people to help them tackling their prejudice without recourse to anger and violence.
"Politicians need to realise politics is not a game. They have a duty to foster harmony in society and soon."
Julian Harrison, who is Jewish, said: "An attack on one faith community is an attack on us all and a threat to the harmony and community cohesion of which this city and county are justifiably proud."
Leading Muslim Suleman Nagdi said Islam was the main target of the protest and thanked other faiths for their support.
"I thank those who open their doors and their hearts to the Muslim community," he said.
The congregation watched a slideshow of photographs of community events, the 2011 disturbances and sports and tourist spots in Leicestershire.
The congregation took it in turns to light their candles and the service ended with a blessing by the Bishop of Leicester, the Right Rev Tim Stevens.

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