London’s Islamic Centres

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner issued a statement this evening, following two suspicious fires in Barnet and Bromley.

“These are difficult times for London’s communities,” he said.

“The Met is now investigating suspicious fires at two locations within the Islamic community which have happened in the past few days. Fortunately no one has been hurt, but we know that fires can often prove fatal.”

He said he wanted to reassure people that the police were “using our full range of policing tactics to protect sites that might be vulnerable”.

“In all boroughs across London, there is an increased police presence around locations that might be at risk. We will maintain a 24/7 guard of uniformed officers at sites we consider to be at greatest risk,” he said.

“We should not allow the murder of Lee Rigby to come between Londoners. The unified response we have seen to his death across all communities will triumph over those who seek to divide us.”

A BBC report gives further details.  Safety advice remains in place.  Please contact your local police if you have any safety concerns.

The positive response by local religious groups and leaders to recent events has been swift and strongly supportive of our local Islamic centres.

Members of Barnet Multi Faith Forum are supporting colleagues at the Bravanese Centre and the Darul Uloom School in Chislehurst will be receiving assistance from the newly formed Interfaith Forum in Bromley.

Religious communities in Woolwich have been rallying round and showing their solidarity.  The Director of the Greenwich Islamic Centre (Woolwich Mosque), Dr Tariq Abbasi, and Revd Malcolm Torry (Greenwich Faith Community Leaders) both spoke on the BBC’s Sunday programme.  The Islamic Centre welcomed well-wishers to tea on Friday 31st May and the Bishop of Woolwich, Archbishop Kevin McDonald, Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, local MP Nick Rainsford, Sadiq Khan MP, Julie Siddiqi of the Islamic Society of Britian and many others joined Dr Abbasi in laying flowers in memory of Lee Rigby at Woolwich Barracks.  You can find photos of the occasion here and there were many press and TV reports.  Afterwards Dr Abbasi sent a message of thanks,

“Thank you to everyone who visited the Greenwich Islamic Centre on Friday afternoon and for the support that the Centre and community has received.”

LBFN was to have met this Thursday.  Everyone has been very busy so we will postpone a full meeting, but all are welcome at our office for light refreshments at 9 St John’s Crypt, 73 Waterloo Road, SE1 8TY at 2.30pm on Thursday 13th June to reflect on recent events.  Please let LBFN know if you plan to join us.  There will be time to move to Westminster Cathedral for those attending Cardinal Tauran’s prayers for peace with leaders of different faiths at 4.30/5.00pm.

UPDATE 10th JUNE – FAITHS FORUM FOR LONDON’S STATEMENT

Suspected Arson Attacks – United London Stands

We, as representatives of nine of London’s faith communities, stand united in solidarity in our disgust at the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, the suspected arson attacks on an Islamic centre in Muswell Hill and a Muslim school in Chislehurst.

None of these are a legitimate means to express grievance. None of these are representative of a faith that we recognise. None of these show pride in being British.

We know religion and we know British pride. It is about a shared commitment to the common good of our city and our country. That is our mission. That is our faith.

We welcome the comments of the Mayor of London, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and many of London’s leaders, condemning this violence and calling for unity.

In spite of the attempts of extremists to divide us, it is clear that victory will ultimately lie with peace, hope and love.

United London Stands.

Advertisements

Further statements mourning the death of Drummer Lee Rigby

Leonie Lewis, Co-chair of the Faiths Forum for London and CEO of Jewish Volunteering Network, addressing the meeting on Friday.

Leonie Lewis, Co-chair of Faiths Forum for London and CEO of Jewish Volunteering Network, addressing the meeting on Friday.

The Faiths Forum for London helped organise an event on Friday, drawing together religious leaders, the armed forces and politicians, at which the Deputy Prime Minister spoke.  The two co-chairs of the Forum, Leonie Lewis and Canon Guy Wilkinson CBE, also spoke.

Phil Rosenberg, FFL’s Director, has uploaded a transcript of the speeches onto their website and these may be helpful in local conversations.  They spoke for us all in offering condolences to the family and friends of Drummer Lee Rigby and in condemning his brutal murder.  The speakers were:

  • Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP
  • Sadiq Khan MP
  • Lord Tariq Ahmad
  • Captain Afzal Amin
  • Imam Shams Ad Duha
  • Canon Guy Wilkinson CBE
  • Leonie Lewis

Further statements mourning the death of Drummer Lee Rigby and condemning the attack have been issued by the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board and the Women’s Interfaith Network.  Others are listed in a previous post.

Post-Woolwich action

Many of us have been busy supporting each other and liaising with our local police, council and religious leaders.

Events to bring people together have taken place and more are planned.  Mosques and churches led prayers for peace on Friday and today, supported by prayers from different religious traditions. Informal support, including simple messages and visits, have been appreciated by many.

Here is a short list of helpful contacts:

  1. Tell MAMA, the public service for measuring and monitoring anti-Muslim attacks, has recorded a surge in hate incidents since Wednesday.  Telephone Tell MAMA on 0800 456 1226; SMS: 0115 707 00 07; Twitter: @tellmamauk; E-mail: info@tellmamauk.org; Facebook: tellmamauk.  Tell MAMA does not replace reporting matters to the police.
  2. In emergency, always dial 999.  For less urgent reporting to the police, dial 101.  Find contacts for your local police service here.
  3. There may be a hate crime forum in your borough, run in cooperation with the police and the council.  Find your local council here.  Your local faith forum is listed on the same page.
  4. Statement on Violence, Hatred, Mistreatment of Minorities and Terrorist Attacks from the Christian Muslim Forum.  The Forum’s statement on the murder in Woolwich offers support to those who wish to support their local mosque.
  5.  Advice for mosques and British Muslims from the Muslim Council of Britain.

Please let me know if you come across other helpful contacts or material and I will pass them on.

Woolwich

I’m sure we are all very concerned about the terrible attack in Woolwich today.

Muslim, multifaith and other groups across London have been speaking out, issuing statements of solidarity against such acts and offering condolences to the family of the young man who has lost his life.

Through our network, we know that there are very good relations and long standing friendships between people of different religious traditions in Greenwich.  The Greenwich Faith Community Leaders will be meeting with the Council tomorrow and I know we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers, along with all those who live and work in Woolwich, as they cope with the aftermath.

Statements issued include those by the Muslim Council of Britain, the National Association of Muslim Police and the Faiths Forum for London.

Here is the Faiths Forum for London’s statement (full list of signatories on FFL’s website):

“We, as representatives of many of London’s faith communities, deplore the terrible attack that has taken place today in Woolwich.

All of our religions exalt the sanctity of human life and no grievance could justify such a barbaric assault that has cost a young man his life. Terrorism has no place on our streets.

We pray for the victim of this attack and his family, and call for Londoners to stand together at this time. We will redouble our efforts to work for peace, love, understanding and hope.”

LBFN is ready to offer practical support to any of our local members who face difficulties as a result of today’s events.  Please contact LBFN’s Convener.

Update on Thursday 23rd May.  Further statements have been released by

Christian Muslim Forum

Inter Faith Network of the UK

Al-Khoei Foundation

Islamic Forum of Europe

Islamic Society of Britain

HOPE not hate

Update on Friday 24th May.  Statement from Lambeth Council, Borough Commander and Faiths Together in Lambeth.

Leader of Lambeth council, Cllr Lib Peck said, “The whole community in Lambeth will have been shocked by the horrific murder of a soldier in Woolwich yesterday afternoon. Our thoughts are with the victim’s family.

We all have a role in protecting the borough and keeping the community safe and we are sure that people in Lambeth will stand together against those who seek to divide us or exploit this incident for their own ends. The council and police are supporting these efforts to ensure that we can go about our lives in safety. We ask everyone to continue to remain calm and vigilant.”

Matt Bell, Lambeth Police Borough Commander said, “Lambeth Police recognise that many communities are feeling anxious and concerned followed the unique events of yesterday however Lambeth borough’s diversity is one of its strengths and I have today assured faith and other community leaders that we will protect and serve this community and they have in turn reiterated their condemnation of the criminal acts perpetrated yesterday and their support for the service and to work with us.”

Revd Alan Gadd, Chair of Faiths Together in Lambeth said, “There are many diverse faith communities in the borough of Lambeth and all will be shocked and saddened by the murder in Woolwich yesterday. At a time like this, many people of faith will recall the multi-faith activity of recent years that has built good relationships, and once again will draw upon those relationships to offer reassurance and show solidarity.”