Terror attack in a Catholic Church in Rouan, France. 26.7.2016.

A few words from our Chair….

We hear news of another dreadful act of terrorism in France enacted by people claiming to be motivated by a religiously identified group. Expressions of horror are voiced by people across Europe and beyond.

How do we begin to challenge such violence and the people who both inspire and commit it? All religions, rightly understood and practiced, have central beliefs and practices about values of promoting peaceful living, serving the neighbour and people in need and living together in community for the good of all. When we hear of such distorted understandings of a faith leading to violent crime such as happened near Rouan today … people of good faith must give out the clear message that such violence is unacceptable and an abuse of the sacred humanity we share. And we must speak out this message together.

When news broke of this latest attack in a French Church, a leading Muslim community spokesperson in Bristol contacted Bristol Multi faith Forum with this message :-

‘It is with deep sadness that we offer our condolence to the tragic deaths in Rouen, Normandy earlier today.
It is an horrific act.
Please convey our thoughts and prayers to the Catholic community in Bristol in this very sad moment.
We also pray for the peace and security of all our places of worship and the respective clergy that serve so vehemently in our communities.
If there is anything that I can assist with then please let me know.’

In these very sad and difficult times we often wonder what we can do to challenge the violence we witness.
We can, as people of faith, pray according to our many different traditions for one another, for the people involved in this attack, and for peace.
We can, together express our condolences to the people of St-Etienne-du-Rouvary where the attack happened today, remember the government and people of France and French citizens living in Bristol.
And we can maintain our commitment to being a diverse and united community that maintains good relationships and encourages mutual respect – speaking up and acting for peace by our actions.

Tracey Lewis – Chair of Bristol Multi Faith Forum

Following the murder of Fr Jacques Hamel in a Catholic Church in Rouan in France, Bristol police have asked us to pass on some information. They say:
“The intention is that PCSOs and local PCs will visit all places of worship within their areas during normal patrol over the next few days.
.• There is no intelligence to indicate a similar threat in the UK.
• Security advice for places of worship is available. http://www.gov.uk/…/counter-terrorism-protective-security-a…
There is funding available for bids with regards to security measures. https://www.gov.uk/…/places-of-worship-security-funding-sch…
(It should be noted that bids for this round of funding will have to be in by the 20th of September 2016. A further round of bids for funding will open in Spring 2017.)
• Further advice is being formulated by the South West Counter Terrorism Security Advisors and this will follow shortly.
• This as an opportunity to further engage with and reinforce local relationships with the faith community and to remind leaders that, should they have concerns over an event or with an individual, that early contact with their local neighbourhood team is a firm option.”

Bastille Day attack in Nice – Statement from the Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Inter Faith Network for the UK

Our neighbour France has again suffered an atrocity which leaves in its wake dozens dead and injured and a community and country in mourning.  Our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by this cowardly and horrendous attack.

Such attacks are designed to rupture the fabric of civil society – not just in France but throughout Europe and beyond: to create suspicion, fear and hatred.

It is vital that in the UK we continue to work for a society which is marked by commitment to tackle tough issues with honesty and constructiveness and to work peacefully to resolve disagreement. Extreme voices and actions have no part in this.

Communities will, and must, continue to reject and stand against brutal violence where it is claimed by perpetrators to be in the name of their religion.

It is vital, too, that we support communities that may be rendered vulnerable by events overseas or at home.  There must be no room for prejudice which singles out any community because of criminal actions carried out by a few in the name of its religion.

Our thoughts turn back to France and indeed to all countries around the world affected by terrorism.   In the UK, many will be holding vigils and times of prayer.  We join our prayers to theirs.

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