Archbishop and Imam issue appeal for unity
by Dan Martin
The Archbishop of Canterbury today stressed the need for unity among Leicester’s religious communities in the aftermath of the brutal killing of a soldier in a suspected terrorist attack.
The Most Rev Justin Welby, the Church of England’s most senior clergyman, said the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich by two apparent Muslim extremists had “no place in Islam.”
The archbishop spoke about the young soldier’s murder outside the Masjid Umar mosque, in Evington, after rearranging his schedule in a visit to Leicester, planned before Wednesday’s horrific events.He met officials from the mosque, along with the bishops of Woolwich, Bradford and Pontefract as well as Bishop of Leicester Tim Stevens.
he archbishop stood side-by-side with assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain Ibrahim Mogra to address reporters follwing events in the capital.
The archbishop said: “We have all been horrified by the brutal murder of drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich and all of our prayers are with his family, colleagues and comrades, all those who witnessed this crime and members of the community who have been affected by it.
“I want to recognise the response of churches, mosques and other faith and civil society groups, as well as those brave individuals who have done so much to bring our communities together at this time.”
The archbishop, who later signed a book of condolence opened for the murdered 25-year-old at Leicester Cathedral, added: “The strong response from the Muslim Council of Britain and many other organisations have rightly emphasised that these acts have no place in Islam.”
He added: “I think Leicester is a shining example of how communities work together. I am confident because of the very good work Ibrahim (Mogra) has been doing, and we are all doing, that we are in a good position.”
Mr Mogra said: “Muslim communities in Britain are shocked and appalled by the horrific murder in Woolwich.
“The murderers chanted slogans during their heinous crime claiming to do it in God’s name.
“Far from it.
“This is a betrayal of Islam.
“This is a truly barbaric act that has no basis in Islam and we condemn it utterly and unreservedly.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Lee Rigby’s family and friends and especially his two-year-old son.
“Drummer Rigby was a serving member of the armed forces.
“Muslims have long served in this country’s armed forces proudly and with honour.
“This attack on a member of the armed forces is dishonourable and no cause can justify this murder.
“This crime has heightened tensions across the country. The MCB calls on all our communities, Muslim and non-Muslim to come together in solidarity to ensure the forces of hatred do not prevail.
“I am immensely grateful for the leadership of our archbishop during this most difficult time and thank leaders of all our faith communities for your support.
“Your local Muslim communities will welcome your support and I encourage you to knock at the doors of every mosque and offer you neighbourly love.
He added: “There is concern about safety in large sections of Muslim communities who live in mixed areas.
“We hope that the police will ensure law and order is maintained.
“We say to the Muslim community: “Let us continue with our lives as normal.
“If we begin to cower and hide ourselves away then we allow the terrorists win. Life must go on.”
Bishop Tim said: “I hope what is clear is that this terrible incident, from driving a wedge between us will bring us closer together.”
Hundreds of worshippers gathered at the mosque for Friday payers and heard Imam Muhammad Sindhi condemn Wednesday’s tragedy.
He said: “Don’t be extremists. In Islam there is no space for terror or terrorism.
“Islam doesn’t teach, in broad daylight, to go out into the streets of London wielding a butcher’s cleaver and hack someone to death.
“This Stone Age savagery is not the message of Islam.”