Message from New Scotland Yard | places of worship | hate crime

Chief Superintendent Dave Stringer is a longstanding friend of LBFN’s and is currently Head of Community Engagement for the Metropolitan Police.  He has sent this message so that it can be passed on to congregations, colleagues and networks this weekend.

“Over the next few days, communities of different faiths will congregate across London to celebrate their holy days. We know many will reflect on the terrible events of last Saturday evening in their readings and prayers but also that some will feel worried and vulnerable about their safety as they gather in their places of worship.

“To help support these communities, we have increased the number of officers on the streets to reassure local people that they are able to go about their daily lives in peace and without fear of harassment or intimidation.

“Dedicated Ward Officers are making contact with their local places of worship to encourage them to report hate crimes and to reassure those who congregate there that the police will take these crimes seriously.

“The Metropolitan Police has made more than 25 arrests for hate crime offences since Saturday.

“We have long since recognised the impact of hate crime on communities and the hidden nature of this crime, which remains largely under-reported. The MPS stands together with policing partners, colleagues and groups to investigate all hate crime allegations, support victims and their families, and bring perpetrators to justice.

“We would appeal to anyone who witnesses or suffers any hate of any type to immediately report it so that action can quickly be taken and catch those responsible.”

Hate crime can be reported through 999 in an emergency, by dialling 101 in a non-emergency, directly at a police station, through the MOPAC Hate Crime app or through community reporting methods such as Tell MAMA, Galop, or the CST.

Total Policing is the Met’s commitment to be on the streets and in your communities to catch offenders, prevent crime and support victims. We are here for London, working with you to make our capital safer.

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Keeping safe & secure | New Scotland Yard | 22 April

Security Briefing 22 April 9amCome to New Scotland Yard on Wednesday 22 April 9am – 10.30am for security briefings from Commander Mak Chishty & the Metropolitan Police and also from specialists Tell MAMA, the Community Security Trust & Ecclesiastical Insurance.

Religiously motivated hate crime has been on the rise for some time.  The threat level from international terrorism to the UK was raised to severe last August.  Attacks overseas and here in London have knock-on effects locally.

In spite of this, local people from many different traditions continue to build strong relationships across religion and belief boundaries and to stand in solidarity with each other in times of crisis.  The sustained work of local faith forums, multifaith networks and councils plays a very significant role.

Building on this, we’ll hear expert advice on keeping safe & secure from specialist organisations and listen to the particular challenges faced by different communities.

We will also discuss practical ways in which we can support each other quickly and effectively in the event of a threat (to buildings or to people), desecration, or abuse on social media.

We will be pulling together some key points to help us improve our own safety and that of our neighbours.

If you have questions you would like to ask, it would be a great help if you emailed LBFN’s convener in advance.

Local places of worship and religious & belief communities are all welcome.

Please download the invitation and pass on to your local churches, Islamic centres, synagogues, gurdwaras, temples and meeting houses.

ThiyaPlease register your name (by noon on 21 April) to be added to the guest list, arrive early at 8.45am and bring photo ID to clear security.

LBFN’s Tara Thiyagarajan (left) will meet everyone at the Reception Desk.  We would like to start promptly at 9am and look forward to seeing you there.

European links

EuropeTwo upcoming meetings in Brussels, Belgium, organised by our European friends at Religions for Peace and European Network on Religion & Belief.

RfP logoThursday 19 March at the European Parliament.  Welcoming each other in Europe: a call for non-discrimination, with Religions For Peace Europe & the Global Network of Religions for Children.  This meeting falls within a larger RfP gathering this week, with over 60 participants from 14 European countries.  Download the programme here, which includes booking details.

The President of Religions for Peace Europe is Yolande Iliano, whom some of us will remember as one of our guest speakers at ENORB UK.  The Secretary General of the European Council of Religious Leaders, Jehangir Sarosh, spoke at our London Peace Conference last September.

enorb logoilgaThursday 26 March  Equality for all!  EU equality legislation against hate speech & discrimination on grounds of religion, belief, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

This is a joint event by ILGA-Europe and ENORB in Brussels looking at existing and proposed equality legislation in Europe and exploring areas of potential tension in a spirit of dialogue and mutual understanding.

Download the invitation and full programme here.  Book by emailing Anusha Dakan.  LBFN was one of the networks which brought the European Network on Religion & Belief together a few years ago and convenes ENORB UK.  Alan Murray, President of ENORB, said a few words about this event at our last meeting at Church House, Westminster.

European Network on Religion and Belief – Brussels May 2012

Walking Madou – the entrance to a no-car zone in Brussels where children play on the street.  Several enorb participants stayed overnight at the nearby Institute of Cultural Affairs.

People from over 50 organisations gathered from across Europe yesterday and today in Brussels for mutual understanding and shared action.  Some were from religious traditions, some were from belief*/non-confessional/convictional/humanist/philosophical traditions.

A round table meeting was held at the EU Parliament with Vice-President Laszlo Surjan.  We discussed the contribution of religious and non-religious communities to overcoming discrimination, violence and extremism in Europe.

Several LBFN members had made suggestions for our contribution on moving from anger and violence to dialogue and positive action: I included the aftermath of 7/7 and the shooting of Jean-Charles de Menezes, Hate Crime Forums, responses to the protests against Harrow Mosque’s new minaret and the role of women.  Thank you to everyone who was in touch about this.

Here are some photos of the event.

Vice-President Laszlo Surjan (third from left) at enorb’s round table at the EU Parliament, with (l-r) Melissa Sonnino (CEJI), Jackie Goymour (Women’s Interfaith Network & LBFN) and Alan Murray (President of enorb).

Harjinder Singh (Sangat Sahib Gurudwara) and Martin Gurvich (Hindu Forum Europe – and enorb’s treasurer).

Catriona Robertson (Convener, LBFN, centre) speaking on how local communities move from violence to positive action, with Yolande Iliano (Chair, Religions for Peace – Europe, left) and Karen Walkden (LBFN, right). Thanks to Melissa Sonnino for the photo.

Georges Lienard (G3i) addressing the round table on Secular European Traditions: what contribution to European security?

Alan Murray (AFAN) and Dennis de Jong MEP.  Dennis spoke at today’s meeting.  He has brought together an all-party group of MEPs to support freedom of religion and belief – whatever your outlook on life, he said, religious or otherwise, you need the opportunity to reflect on it. The group is also in touch with the External Action Service, noting that it was slow to respond to the Arab Spring last year.

Amarjit Kaur (United Sikhs Belgium) who described the difficulties facing Sikh schoolchildren in Belgium in relation to religious dress.

Augustine Booth-Clibborn (Inter Faith Network UK) and Abdullah Faliq (The Cordoba Foundation)

Helene Egnell (Centre for Inter Faith Dialogue in the Diocese of Stockholm) and Hannah Wallace (consultant with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation).

Karim Chemlal (Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe), Alan Murray (All Faiths and None) and Gérard Delfau (Egalité-Laïcité- Europe).

Sayed Ali Abbas (Majlis Ulema Europe), Hannah Wallace, Catriona Robertson and Tinci Singh (United Sikhs).

Exchanges between enorb member groups across Europe was a popular idea.  There’s no substitute for visiting a local network in another country to learn about the different contexts and challenges – and in return, welcoming them to, for example, London.

It was inspiring to meet so many practitioners from across Europe who are building communities of trust in their own countries and who are committed to working with each other on a European level.

The enorb website is now live and will carry photos and reports of the Brussels meeting soon.

*The words we use to describe each other haven’t found consensus yet – a Buddhist participant reminded us that many Buddhists are both religious and non-confessional.