A message from the Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs to member bodies of the Inter Faith Network for the UK
[The Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum is a member body of the Inter Faith Network for the UK]
The work of most of your organisations, like that of the Inter Faith Network for the UK, focuses on this country. There are, however, times when events in other countries with which we have links or about which we have concern have an impact on our relationships here.
These may be events, past or present, about which a community or communities have strong feelings: particular attacks or periods of persecution or even genocide; ‘one off’ but deeply disturbing episodes; or ongoing actions – military or civilian – affecting the lives of many, within and across borders. The roll call of such actions in recent times is long and the impact reverberates.
Today our thoughts and our prayers are with all those affected by the present crisis in Gaza and Israel, and in other countries in the Middle East and elsewhere where communities are under sometimes terrifying pressures.
Such situations give rise to strong differences of view about what is just and right and they bring with them anxiety, pain – and anger. At these times, our bonds of friendship and trust – long in the making – are tested. It is hard to keep communication open and to continue to be willing to be in dialogue but it is vital to do so and to continue to support each other’s right to differ in opinion and to be willing to make our case with courtesy and respect for the other.
Likewise, continued care for the safety and security of our different faith communities in the UK must surely be a concern for all of us. We acknowledge fears of those in the Jewish community with the recent sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks, mirroring fears in the Muslim community following the increase in attacks on Muslims after the murder of Lee Rigby in Woolwich last year.
We note also the helpful statements from a range of faith community leaders and organisations. Vital work is happening at local and national level to keep channels of communication open and relationships strong. Our thoughts and prayers are also with all seeking to encourage and support this.
The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson OBE, Co-Chair Mr Vivian Wineman, Co-Chair Mr Mohinder Singh Chana, Vice-Chair Dr Kishan Manocha, Vice-Chair Maulana M Shahid Raza OBE, Vice-Chair Dr Jagdish Sharma, Vice-Chair