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‘We must not let such evil acts divide us’ - religious leaders react to London terror attack

The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich

Two Suffolk Bishops and Bury St Edmunds’ Muslim community have responded to last night’s London terror attack which left seven people dead and 48 injured.

The Rt Revd Martin Seeley, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, which includes almost all of Suffolk, said: “I am shocked at yet another evil and appalling act of terrorism on our country.

“I grieve with those who have been both bereaved and wounded, as they face such pain and struggle with the aftermath of this cowardly attack.

“My heartfelt prayers and sympathy are for the families, partners, and friends of all those effected. We are all grateful for the incredible speed and effectiveness of the emergency services, and for the countless acts of bravery, kindness and generosity of members of the public.

“Please hold all those suffering in your prayers. In churches across Suffolk prayers were said in services today, and most are open for those who want a peaceful place to reflect and pray.

“Such evil acts are committed by terrorists motivated by a distortion of Islam. We must not let their actions divide us from our Muslim neighbours who share in the dismay and horror at these attacks.”

The Rt Revd Dr Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, said: “Once again a terrorist attack causes grievous carnage and loss of life in one of our major cities and our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, those injured in the attack and those traumatised by the events at London Bridge.

“But once again also there are stories of heroism, of courage, generosity and self-giving which testify to the strength of the fabric of our relationships, a fabric terrorists would seek to tear apart.

“Terrorist incidents are meant to challenge the stories we live by. They are meant to replace our story, our story of a peaceful society whose stability and safety we can rely on and replace it with a narrative of fear and dread, an insecure and unpredictable environment subject to threat and violence.

“And if we buy that narrative, then out of that threat and fear is bred suspicion and hostility for different groups within society, leading to the kind of fragmentation, scapegoating and polarisation which breeds further fear and strengthens the terrorists’ narrative.

“That’s why it’s vital at times like this that we rehearse our story and keep on rehearsing it, and why politicians, faith leaders and others must stand up and re-tell our story, a story whose ingredients include our togetherness and solidarity, our unity in diversity, our common purposes of peaceful co-existence, our mutual respect and dignity, our outright refusal to be ensnared by fear or hatred.

“The stories we tell shape our lives – we must not allow terrorism to dictate those stories.”

The trustees of the Bury St Edmunds Islamic Cultural Organisation (BICO Charity) said: “On behalf of the Muslim community in Bury, we the trustees at the BICO Charity condemn the perpetrators of these heinous crimes, in the most strongest possible terms.

“We also pray for the victims and their families and for those who are injured and currently in hospital receiving medical treatment. We also pray for those members of the security personnel who had to deal with this incident and praise their swift action, which averted further fatalities.

“We also pray that this mindless violence should stop and that reason take hold, as nothing is to be gained by killing those who are going about their lawful business.

“May our lord most high make it easier for everyone concerned and keep us all in safety. We also express our hope that this does not impact negatively on community relations.”

A spokesman for the West Suffolk Interfaith and Community Forum said: “We hold in our thoughts and prayers those who have lost their lives or been injured in the attacks at London Bridge, and also their families and friends.

“We give thanks for the bravery and commitment of all who went to their assistance.

“This was a further brutal attempt to undermine the stability of British society and to sow suspicion and fear - one that must be met by continuing to stand resolutely together as people of all faiths and none to uphold the values of an open democratic society.

“We must continue to work together for a respectful and positive society where people feel valued and included and safe and where all can flourish free from fear.

“Attacks such as these can bring scapegoating and acts of hatred in their wake. Let us work to try and prevent that and respond together to assist whenever necessary.

“We know that, just as following the recent attack in Manchester, inter faith organisations in London will be playing an important role in the days and weeks to come. They are also in our thoughts at this time.

“Two weekends from now the anniversary of the murder of the late Jo Cox MP by an extremist of a different kind will be marked by the Great Get Together.

“People around the UK will be coming together in their communities in a spirit of neighbourliness to highlight and celebrate what unites.

“Let us seize that moment to strengthen our bonds of friendship and create new relationships and to remember and affirm that we have, in her words, ‘far more in common with each other than things that divide us’.”

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