The UK has a strong pattern of inter faith relations overall. However, tensions and difficulties can arise for a number of reasons.
These might include local disagreements, global issues, or attacks – or threats of attack – which appear linked to racist or religious hatred or are designed to stir this up. Local inter faith responses are very important in this context.
Inter faith responses at the local level may include:
- Issuing joint statements to witness to solidarity between people of different faiths and beliefs and support any who may feel under threat
- Holding vigils or other gatherings
- Meeting together with Police, civic leaders and others to coordinate activity
- Standing together peacefully outside a place of worship which is under threat
- Coming together to help clean up premises that have been attacked or to raise funds for their restoration
IFN has worked with the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Home Office, the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Police Chiefs’ Council and the National Fire Chiefs Council to provide guidance on responding to incidents that are, or appear to be, hate incidents. This guidance can be found here: Looking After One Another: The Safety and Security of our Faith Communities. This is not repeated here.
Creating a strong base for responding to difficulties – the baseline of positive local inter faith relations
Joint responses to inter community tensions or attacks on community properties or individuals are most effective if they are built on an existing process of strengthening communications and building trust and friendship. If your area does not have an inter faith body or regular opportunities for inter faith engagement, contact the Inter Faith Network for the UK for a conversation. If you are based in Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales, also contact the [Make links] Northern Ireland Inter-Faith Forum, Interfaith Scotland or the Inter-faith Council for Wales.
In some areas, ‘We stand together’ initiatives have been developed by the Police in association with local partners. These go back to a ‘We Stand Together’ initiative launched by the Greater Manchester Police some years ago and taken forward also by the Metropolitan Police and other Forces. See for example: http://www.report-it.org.uk/uk_police_launch_westandtogether_campaign_to_br and http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/we-stand-together-campaign-manchester-13667420
Many examples of people expressing joint solidarity can be seen on Twitter by searching for the hashtag #westandtogether
Some examples of local responses:
National responses are also important. National faith community and inter faith bodies respond in a number of ways to incidents which may have an impact on inter faith relations. The Co-Chairs and Faith Communities Forum Moderators of the Inter Faith Network for the UK issue statements were appropriate, for example in response to the Parsons Green tube bombing: https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/parsons-green-responding-together-in-solidarity-statement Past such statements can be seen at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/statements-and-messages
Examples of responses by other bodies to various events can be seen at: https://www.interfaith.org.uk/news/statement
- Looking After One Another: The safety and security of our faith communities is a short document produced by IFN with the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Home Office, the Crown Prosecution Service, the National Fire Chiefs’ Council and the National Police Chiefs’ Council. It is IFN’s main resource about standing together and can be found at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/looking-after-one-another-the-safety-and-security-of-our-faith-communities-2017
- The Local Inter Faith Guide offers suggestions on issuing statements https://www.interfaith.org.uk/uploads/lifg2005.pdf#page=78 and IFN’s own policy on making of statements (https://www.interfaith.org.uk/uploads/Policy_on_making_of_statements.pdf) may also be helpful.
- The following report includes some helpful reflections on dealing with hate crime in local contexts https://www.interfaith.org.uk/uploads/IFN_Local_day_event_Coventry_2016.pdf#page=7