Religious leaders unite in condemnation of Finsbury Park attack

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Muslim leaders have reacted to the attack in Finsbury Park, north London, with shock, condemnation and calls for security at mosques to be stepped up. Many also said the backdrop of the attack was rising Islamophobia.

Support also came from Christian, Jewish and Sikh leaders.

The Muslim Council of Britain condemned the attack near the Muslim Welfare House. Harun Khan, the MCB’s secretary general, said: “It appears from eyewitness accounts that the perpetrator was motivated by Islamophobia. Over the past weeks and months, Muslims have endured many incidents of Islamophobia, and this is the most violent manifestation to date.

“Given we are approaching the end of the month of Ramadan and the celebration of Eid, with many Muslims going to local mosques, we expect the authorities to increase security outside mosques as a matter of urgency.”

Muslim communities wanted “transformative action … to tackle not only this incident but the hugely worrying growth in Islamophobia”, he added.

The Muslim Association of Britain said it unreservedly condemned “this evil terror attack” and called on police to increase security in mosques.

It demanded politicians “treat this major incident no less than a terrorist attack. We call on the government to do more to tackle this hateful evil ideology which has spread over these past years and resulted in an increase of Islamophobic attacks and division of our society, as well as spreading of hate.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

Terrorists will not divide us, religious leaders pledge after London attack

londonIF THE terror attack in central London on Saturday night leads to a rise in anti-Muslim sentiment, the terrorists will have won, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

“Every time a Muslims is abused on a bus or a mosque is attacked, the terrorists have taken another step forward,” Archbishop Welby said on Monday morning.

“If we attack or persecute a particular group of people on the grounds of their faith alone, the terrorists will give three cheers and say: ‘Thank you, you have done our work for us.’”

Archbishop Welby gave his warning during an interview on BBC Radio 4. He also said, however, that it was impossible to deny the connection between Islam and the massacre on Saturday evening, where three men armed with knives killed seven and injured 48 more on London Bridge and in Borough Market.

Stating that Islamist-inspired terrorism had nothing to do with Islam made as little sense as suggesting the Srebrenica atrocity during the Balkan Wars had nothing to do with Christianity, Archbishop Welby said.

“Throughout history, religious tradition and scriptures have been twisted and misused by people. If something is happening within our own faith tradition, we have to take responsibility for being very, very clear in countering it.”

But it was striking how quickly every major Muslim leader and organisation had spoken out in horror at the attack, Archbishop Welby also said. And while it was natural to be concerned about relations between faith groups after a terror attack, everyone could see London’s “extraordinary cohesion”.

“There isn’t a fundamental problem with cohesion. The vast majority of Muslims and everyone else have a single view about what kind of country they want to live in.”

The three attackers, who have yet to be named by police, are thought to have been inspired by Islamic State, which has released a statement claiming that they were its fighters. Officers investigating the attack have arrested 12 people and are searching homes in East London.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHURCH TIMES (UK)

London Muslims go to church in solidarity with Christians: ‘We will not let hatred win’

st-john-on-bethnal-green-welcomes-muslims-to-sunday-serviceLeading 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.

FULL ARTICLE FROM CHRISTIAN TODAY

Fasting for Ramadan won’t be easy – it’s the coffee I’ll miss the most

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by Sadiq Khan (new mayor of London)

Is it really that bold to be the first Muslim mayor and be unafraid to be Muslim? I don’t call myself a Muslim politician; I’m not a Muslim spokesperson or leader, and it’s important to clarify that because otherwise you’re defined solely by your faith. We all have multiple identities – I’m a Londoner, a son and a father – and City Hall isn’t a pulpit. But, as Ramadan starts, I’m aware that it’s a great opportunity to do things in the community and break down the mystique and suspicion around the religion. If you’re someone who doesn’t have Muslim friends and your only experience of Islam is what you see on the news – the angry man with a beard doing or saying something terrible – then you may inadvertently associate that with Islam and think that is what it’s all about. So, I’m making it a priority this month to get out there and build bridges by hosting Ramadan meals around the city at synagogues, churches and mosques.

The best way for people to understand each other’s faith is to share experiences. Fasting is a good way to do this because, when you’re breaking bread with someone, inviting non-Muslims to have that iftar meal together, it shows that it’s not a big deal, nor is it spooky or weird.

When I was growing up, you had to explain to people why you weren’t eating. Now, in a cosmopolitan city such as London, where for 1,000 years there has been an open exchange of trade, ideas, people and culture, most people know someone – perhaps at work or through friends – who will be spending this month fasting. Ask them how they are! It makes a big difference when someone spends just a minute to see how you’re doing. I’ve had friends fast through solidarity – they don’t always make it through the whole day, but it’s a kind gesture.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LONDON GUARDIAN 

London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Religious Extremism, Brexit and Donald Trump

30khan2302c“If Donald Trump becomes the President, I’ll be stopped from going there by virtue of my faith”

Sadiq Khan, 45, was declared the new mayor of London in the early hours of Saturday, becoming the most powerful Muslim politician in Europe. A Transport Minister in the Labour government of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Khan came under severe attack during the campaign from his Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith, for sharing platforms with extremists during his earlier career as a human-rights lawyer.

Fresh from his victory, Khan sat down with TIME on Sunday in his new office in City Hall, a bulbous glass building overlooking Tower Bridge. In these excerpts from the conversation, Khan claims he is the “antidote” to extremism, reveals that the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency might force him to meet U.S. mayors before the end of the year, and explains why he’s campaigning to keep the U.K. in the European Union ahead of June’s In/Out referendum.

You’re the first Muslim mayor of a major western city. Do you feel an extra responsibility to tackle religious extremism?
One of the things that’s important to me as a Londoner is making sure my family, people I care about, are safe. But clearly, being someone who is a Muslim brings with it experiences that I can use in relation to dealing with extremists and those who want to blow us up. And so it’s really important that I use my experiences to defeat radicalization and extremism. What I think the election showed was that actually there is no clash of civilization between Islam and the West. I am the West, I am a Londoner, I’m British, I’m of Islamic faith, Asian origin, Pakistan heritage, so whether it’s [ISIS] or these others who want to destroy our way of life and talk about the West, they’re talking about me. What better antidote to the hatred they spew than someone like me being in this position?

FULL ARTICLE FROM TIME MAGAZINE 

Sadiq Khan Is Elected Mayor of London

SUB-JP-BRITAIN-master768LONDON — Sadiq Khan, a son of a bus driver from Pakistan, was declared the winner of London’s mayoral election on Saturday, becoming the first Muslim to lead Britain’s capital at a time of rising Islamophobia in the West.

The victory of Mr. Khan, a former human rights lawyer and a Labour member of Parliament, makes him one of the most prominent Muslim politicians in the West. It was also his party’s biggest boost in a series of elections on Thursday in which Labour further lost its grip on Scotland, once a stronghold, and clung, in some cases just barely, to seats in England and Wales.

Mr. Khan won with 56.8 percent of the vote, versus 43.2 percent for Mr. Goldsmith. The results were not final until Saturday morning because in London’s system voters are allowed a first and second preference, and Mr. Khan had not won an outright majority in the first round.

London, a global center of finance, is hardly representative of Britain: About a quarter of its residents are foreign-born, and an eighth are Muslim. And Mr. Khan is not the first Muslim to win a prominent office in Europe: Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, has had a Muslim mayor since 2009, and a Muslim Conservative lawmaker, Sajid Javid, is the British secretary of state for business.

Nonetheless, Mr. Khan, 45, won a striking victory after a campaign dominated by anxieties over religion and ethnicity. Britain has not sustained a large-scale terrorist attack since 2005, and its Muslim population, in contrast to France, is considered well assimilated. But an estimated 800 people have left Britain to fight for or support the Islamic State. Dozens of assaults on British Muslims were reported after the Paris terrorist attacks in November.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES 

Crime-fighting London Jews claim model for Muslim cooperation

afp-crime-fighting-london-jews-claim-model-for-muslim-cooperationLondon (AFP) – The unusual sight of crime-fighting Orthodox Jews pounding the streets of a tough London neighbourhood after dark has captured the attention of grateful locals, but their ongoing protection of local Muslims has seen their profile go global.

The work of the 25-strong “Shomrim” even caught the eye of US Secretary of State John Kerry, who praised the neighbourhood patrol group’s “remarkable courage”.

Members of the Haredi Jewish community in Stamford Hill formed the group — named after the Yiddish word for guards — in 2008 in response to high crime levels.

Police initially feared vigilantism but now cooperate closely with the volunteers, who helped in 197 arrests last year and even apprehending the area’s “most wanted burglar”.

It is Shomrim’s role in helping protect the area’s large Muslim population, however, that has secured its place in the community and garnered international praise.

The group was called upon by local councillors in Hackney, north London, following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by Islamic extremists in the British capital in 2013.

FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA