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Faith leaders urge communities to ‘stand together’ against hatred

Justin Welby, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg delivered a joint statement of solidarity at Lambeth Palace.

Faith leaders including the Archbishop of Canterbury have urged communities across the country to “stand together” against hatred, amid a rise in reported antisemitic attacks and hate crimes in the UK.

Justin Welby, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg delivered a joint statement of solidarity at Lambeth Palace amid the Israel-Hamas conflict.

Mr Welby said the faith leaders were speaking alongside each other on Tuesday morning to “stand together against any form of hatred or violence against Jewish people or any other community”.

He added: “We cannot allow the seeds of hatred and prejudice to be sown afresh in our communities. And at this time especially, we cannot allow the cancer of antisemitism to spread in our nation.”

Mr Welby welcomed the “solidarity” shown by Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and said they “speak for their own communities and networks, and not for any others, but they speak out of their particular friendship, as a Muslim, and as a Jew”.

From left: Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra make a statement at Lambeth Palace in London
From left: Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra make a statement at Lambeth Palace in London (Doug Peters/PA)

Sheikh Mogra, a scholar and imam from Leicester, said it was “deplorable and wrong” that the Jewish community in the UK has been the target of hate crimes.

He said it is “unacceptable” that synagogues and Jewish centres have been targeted and called on “all fellow citizens to stand up and speak out against all and every form of hate”.

The former assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain said: “British Muslims and Jews have much in common and there are many personal ties between us.

“We have celebrated happy times together and stood together in solidarity during difficult and challenging times.

“We have, and will sometimes be on opposite sides, but we live together as neighbours in peace and harmony, disagreeing with each other respectfully without resorting to hate or violence.”

Rabbi Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism UK, said Sheikh Mogra’s solidarity in speaking out against antisemitism “means a great deal” amid “a five-fold rise in incidents of antisemitism” over the last week.

He said the Jewish community has “long condemned and continues to condemn all racism directed against Muslims, from whatever source”.

The Rabbi of the New North London Synagogue said: “As leaders in the British Jewish and Muslim communities we affirm the importance of maintaining our relationships even and especially in troubled times.

“We have so much in common; there are many friendships between us and we have stood together through both peaceful and challenging days.”

Rabbi Wittenberg added: “We will sometimes have different loyalties, yet it is essential that we live together across the United Kingdom as neighbours and fellow citizens in peace and with respect.”

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