Unite against religious violence, says Interfaith Network

By staff writers
27 Jul 2011

The Interfaith Network in the UK has urged religious groups to unite against violence and prejudice following the murder of 76 people in Norway last week. They condemned the killer's claim to be motivated by Christianity and his promotion of hostility to Muslims.

The network's co-chairs and vice-chairs signed a statement declaring that they were "profoundly shocked" by the killings and are joining "with those around the world in offering to all affected our deepest sympathy and prayers".

The network, which seeks to promote dialogue and understanding between people of different faiths, pointed out that "the individual arrested in the wake of these terrorist acts has offered a rationale rooted in opposition to multiculturalism and to the presence of Islam in Europe. He has claimed a justification based, in part, on what he sees as Christian belief".

They suggest that incidents such as this have a "direct relevance" to all working for good interfaith relations, because "where terrorists justify their actions with reference to positions which they call religious, this reflects ignorance and breeds suspicion and mistrust".

Following the atrocity in Norway, there have been a number of calls for people in the UK to be more aware of the dangers of far-right and anti-Muslim violence.

The signatories to the network's statement acknowledge that religious teachings can be used to justify brutal acts of violence. But they insist that such acts "have no place in any society". They add, "in the United Kingdom, people of different faiths coexist as part of one society".

The Interfaith Network links 200 member bodies including national representative bodies of the Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Zoroastrian faiths, as well as local interfaith groups, educational institutions and other organisations.

They concluded, "We are committed, as people of faith, to discerning our shared values and building on these - alongside all people of goodwill - to strengthen our society".

[Ekk/1]

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