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Leeds faith leaders unite against religious violence

03 June 2016

Faith leaders at St George’s: left to right: Imam Qari Asim, Rabbi Jason Kleiman, Professor Debbie Murdoch Eaton, Canon Jonathan Clark (Rector of St George’s), the Rt Revd Paul Slater, Imam Zeeshan Baloch

Faith leaders at St George’s: left to right: Imam Qari Asim, Rabbi Jason Kleiman, Professor Debbie Murdoch Eaton, Canon Jonathan Clark (Rector o...

AN INTERFAITH gathering in St George’s, Leeds, last Sunday has been described as "unique" and "heart-warming".

Nearly 100 Christians, Jews, and Muslims met for the event,  Standing Together, to join forces against the use of violence in the name of religion.

Representatives from each reli­gion spoke on behalf of sufferers from another. Thus, Rabbi Jason Kleiman spoke of the infliction of suffering on Muslims at Srebrenica by those who considered themselves Christian; Imam Zeeshan Baloch recounted how Christians had been targeted by members of the Pakistani Taliban in Lahore; and Professor Debbie Murdoch Eaton from St George’s recounted examples of the persecu­tion of the Jewish community.

In addition, the Bishop of Richmond, the Rt Revd Paul Slater, spoke of the example set by the Archbishop of Canterbury; a mem­ber of the Jewish Representative Council, Mike Fligg, spoke of the former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks’s book Not in God’s Name; and Qari Asim, a senior imam at Makkah mosque, spoke of his visit to Marrakesh and the drawing up of the Marrakesh Declaration, a Muslim document that condemns violence in the name of faith.

At the end, all signed a declara­tion denouncing violence in the name of religion. It also con­demned anti-Semitism, the per­secu­tion of Christians, and Islamo­phobia.

Rabbi Kleiman said afterwards: "It is heart-warming to see how we all share the goal of promoting harmony and understanding and seek a world free of intolerance, prejudice, and racism."

Imam Asim tweeted that this had been "an unpre­cedented event to tell each other’s story".

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