Recent tragic events in Austria and France in particular have highlighted once again for us the evil acts that people sometimes claim to do in the name of religion. As committed followers of some of the world’s great faiths, for whom our religion is of fundamental importance and the central driving force of our lives, we denounce such wickedness in the strongest of terms. There is absolutely no justification or excuse to be found in our faiths for such wanton acts of violence or aggression. No religion encourages or even permits us to take the lives of those who disagree with us, let alone innocent bystanders.
The solution to religious violence, however, is not to be found in abuse and resentment either. Anti- Semitic, Islamophobic or other forms of hate speech and insult cause real harm and further the isolation and rejection, which communities sometimes feel. The violent actions of evil and deluded people must never be used as an excuse to restrict the vital religious freedoms of sincere people of faith who find their religion to be a cause of great strength and comfort and a compulsion to live lives of love, peace and hope.
We ask people of faith in particular to set an example, to be responsible and wise in their speech, to learn to disagree well and to pull together rather than apart for the betterment of our society. We call upon all faith communities to be quick to speak up and to act decisively against all forms of hatred, division, aggression and abuse wherever they are evident, and to work together with collaborators of all faiths and none to bring about a more just, peaceable and inclusive society.
The signatories to the statement are below:
• Dr Husna Ahmad OBE, CEO of Global One 2015
• Dr Andrew Davies Director, Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion
• Lord Mohamed Sheikh of Cornhill, House of Lords
• Mr Farooq Murad Director Islamic Foundation
• Mr Amit Kapadia, Executive Director UNforgotten
• Mr Gopal Patel Director Bhumi Global
• Ms Laura Marks OBE Interfaith consultant Common Good
• Mr Nathan Nagel Executive Director Middle East Medical Portal
• Ms Julie Siddiqi MBE Founder Together We Thrive
• Ms Asmaa Idris CEO Inceptima
• Ms Bina Wang Executive Director World Human Accountability Organisation