Cohesion over the Channel: Interfaith visit brings communities together
Faith leaders from across the UK visited Paris’ infamous Bataclan Theatre last week to pay their respects to those killed during the terror attacks last year in the French capital.
On 13th November 2015, gunmen opened fire in the popular music venue, killing 89 people, while attacks elsewhere in the city resulted in 41 more deaths and injuries to more than 350.
Daesh claimed responsibility for the attacks, leading to a rise in community tensions across the country.
This past week, Muslim leaders from the UK, including Leeds’ Qari Asim, imam at the Makkah Masjid, travelled to the site of the shooting to lay flowers and build up faith relations.
Explaining why the group had travelled over now, Mr Asim said: “It’s not only the anniversary of the terrible Paris attacks, and a time of which we should all be paying tribute to the victims, but also a time of remembrance for the First World War.
“During our trip we shared ideas with faith leaders on how we can become more resilient against terrorism.
“It was really poignant that it is 100 years since the First World War and people of all faiths and none were united in their causes against Fascism and Nazism. Today, 100 years on, we again need to remain united in the face of terrorism which is the madness of our time.”
Amongst the other sites visited for the group was the home of Father Jacques Hamel – a priest who was brutally murdered on 26th July 2016 in a Normandy Church Attack by Daesh.
In the aftermath of his death, the local catholic community, the sisters at the church and the Revd who has replaced Revd Hamel, remained determined not to let the shocking attack create division between communities.
Mr Asim added: “It was a really grief-stricken experience when we were there,” he said.
“Some of the emotions we had were pain, grief, horror, and that effectively a person of faith, who was a gentle, kind person, spreading the message of peace and love was brutally murdered by these terrorists. It was amazing to see that this community has worked so hard to stay together.
“People can very easily be capitalised upon a situation when tensions are high. Building walls of hatred is not the solution. It was remarkable that they didn’t let that happen and it also shows how important it is to ensure peace and solidarity work continues.”
Joining Mr Asim on the trip was Suffah Foundation Chairman, Shaykh Umar Hayat Qadri, Shaykh Yazdani Misbahi of London Fatwa Council, and Brother Dawood Masood of Al-Hira Centre, Luton.
The visit was arranged as part of the inter-faith delegation organised by London Faiths Forum.