Chair’s address at OneVoice Vigil for solidarity with Muslim Community

At Hove Town Hall

Faith and community leaders gathered outside Hove Town Hall to speak in solidarity with the Muslim community locally and globally in response to the New Zealand mosque shootings in ChristChurch. Geoff Raw, CEO of the Brighton & Hove City Council gave the opening speech and introduced the speakers, Imam Muhibur Rahman, Shah Jalal Mosque; Tariq Jung, Chair, Brighton & Hove Muslim Forum; Cllr Daniel Yates (Leader of the Council); Mahir Chowdhury, Chair of the Racial Harassment Forum (RHF); Fiona Sharpe, on behalf of the Sussex Jewish Representative Council; Asmat Roe, Chair Muslim Women’s Group and Vice Chair of the RHF; Richard Williams, Chair, Sanctuary on Sea; Father Jerome (Metropolitan Jerome of Selsey), Acting Chair BHFA & The Faith Council and Imam Uthman, Al-Medinah Mosque who gave the closing statement.

“On behalf of the members and communities of the city’s Faith Council & BHFA…

Our hearts, our thoughts, our prayers are with the Muslim community as they grieve and mourn for the tragic loss of life and assault on their places of worship in New Zealand… and as of last night, vandalism of Mosques in Birmingham. Also too of the persecution of Christians and attacks on churches in China, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines and Egypt. Of the persecution of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and the Rohingya in Myanmar and all other forms of inhumanity and dehumanising hatred that demeans what it is to be human and devalues life itself… present here even in Brighton.

Ignorance = fear = phobia – an irrational response often manifested as hatred – hatred of the unknown through fear and ignorance. Our Combatting Faith Hate Partnership seeks to address this by providing opportunities for people of faith and people of no faith to learn about each other and so dispel ignorance and thus ultimately hatred.

At BHFA we pointedly “don’t do theology” – we don’t presume to tell each other our beliefs – yet we come together in practical ways, to address the needs of our community – homelessness, mental health, loneliness, combating Hate…

Whether we identify our religion as being “of peace”, “of love” or “of God’s children” it is only by being true to the common and core values of our respective faiths that we may take control of the narrative. For all of our religions speak of peace, speak of love of neighbour as being love of God – and reconciliation, being merciful both of God toward us and of us toward each other.

Sometimes there can develop a sense of hopelessness when faced with these tragic situations. But, the most practical and most meaningful way each of us can begin to counter the hate we experience – and prevent ourselves becoming hateful in turn – is to be the best of our faith… The best Muslim. The best Christian. The best Jew. The best practitioners of whatever our religion is… that the best light of our “religions of peace, love and God’s children” may be realised in our communities and experienced by our neighbours and thus dispel the darkness of ignorance, hatred and fear.

Rather than retreating and isolating ourselves from each other and our communities… we should become bolder in our partnerships together to build and restore trust, mutual respect and facedown all forms of hatred with the power of unity in One Voice!”

Metropolitan Jerome of Selsey, Acting Chair BHFA & The Faith Council

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