British faith leaders call for tolerance and solidarity after attack


British Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders called for tolerance and solidarity on Friday as they joined a vigil outside London's Westminster Abbey, close to the site of Wednesday's terrorist attack.

"We are here together, to stand together to show solidarity, to show cooperation," said Sheikh Ezzat Khalifa, chief imam of the London Central Mosque, who was there to represent Sunni Muslims. Khalifa urged people not to link the attacker, who was reportedly inspired by religious extremism, with Islam, "because Islam – and all religions – calls for peace, tolerance and coexistence."

"We proclaim: No person and no event will drive a wedge between us," said Ephraim Mirvis, Britain's chief rabbi. "Together we will prevail."

Sheikh Mohammad al Hilli, a cleric from Britain's Shia community, said the attack on pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and on a police officer at a gate to parliament was "heinous and appalling." Al Hilli said he had "witnessed a tremendous feeling of support from British people in the past few days. As we come together at this difficult time, London is united against the face of terror and extremism. The Muslim community today stands to denounce any form of terrorism and violence."

Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said the religious leaders had gathered in "a moment of sad reflection, but also a moment of determination for our nation together."

They observed a one-minute silence following their brief speeches.    (dpa)

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