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Safety, security and living well together

statement by Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Inter Faith Network for the UK

NEWS RELEASE
21 January 2015

The recent murders in Paris, as well as reported rises in anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim comments and attacks in the UK and more widely in Europe, have brought in their wake increased anxieties about the safety of Jewish and Muslim communities. In the case of manifestations of violent extremism and terrorism they have brought anxiety about the safety and wellbeing of all communities and of our society overall.

There is, and will be, debate about best ways to respond to these disturbing developments, as well as to the implications of others around the globe. At an immediate practical level, however, where communities feel their very safety is under threat, mutual support is vital. Inter faith initiatives are fundamental to achieving this and play a crucial role alongside that of the emergency services and other secular agencies working to ensure public safety. The attached principles, drawn from the IFN and partners document 'Looking After One Another: The Safety and Security of our Faith Communities' remain very relevant.

Government statements this weekend about the need to re-double efforts to eradicate anti-Semitism, as well as about the need to protect Muslim and other communities, were accompanied by statements from Ministers about the importance of all faith communities to British life and to the countering of extremism.

The Inter Faith Network for the UK works to increase understanding about and between faith communities and to encourage and support good inter faith relations. As part of this it has always underlined the enormous importance of the contribution which faith communities make to British society – and also of their engaging and being engaged with well by wider society.

Among the Government statements made was that of Home Secretary Theresa May: "Without its Jews, Britain would not be Britain, just as without its Muslims, Britain would not be Britain - without its Sikhs, Hindus, Christians and people of other faiths, Britain would not be Britain". We wholly agree. We would add that Britain would also not be Britain without our continuing commitment as people of different faiths, within its four nations, to finding ways to live together well – including with those of non-religious beliefs - and continuing to work together to shape our society in the light of our shared values while retaining the integrity of our religious beliefs and appreciating the positive dimensions of diversity.

There has been fresh discussion in recent times about "values", including in the context of discussion of 'British values'. The Inter Faith Network has, across the years, explored the ideas of 'common values' and 'shared values' in a number of ways, from the seminar The Quest for Common Values, through working with the faith communities on the Act of Commitment for the new Millennium, to such documents as 'Living Well Together'. Further work on values will be taking place within the Inter Faith Network across the year.

The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson OBE (Co-Chair)
Vivian Wineman (Co-Chair)
Dr Girdari L Bhan (Vice-Chair)
Mohinder Singh Chana (Vice-Chair)
Maulana M Shahid Raza OBE (Vice-Chair)
The Ven Bogoda Seelawimala (Vice-Chair)

Notes

1. Press queries to Inter Faith Network: tel 020 7730 0410; email ifnet@interfaith.org.uk

2. The Inter Faith Network for the UK (www.interfaith.org.uk) was founded in 1987 to advance public knowledge and mutual understanding of the teachings, traditions and practices of the different faith communities in Britain and to promote good relations between people of different faiths in this country. It works with its member bodies and others to carry out these aims.

3. Member bodies of the Inter Faith Network include: national faith community representative bodies; national, regional and local inter faith bodies; and academic institutions and educational bodies concerned with inter faith issues. A list of member bodies can be found at http://www.interfaith.org.uk/members/list.

4. A copy of this statement and the Inter Faith Network's policy on The Making of Network Statements can be found on the Statements and Messages page.