We condemn in the strongest terms terrorism and other acts of violent extremism. They have no place in a democratic society. We deplore these fundamental acts of inhumanity and our thoughts and prayers are with those who have been affected.
In recent times, in many places around the world – as this week at the Notre-Dame Basilica in Nice in France – people have been murdered at their places of worship. Such attacks on places of worship are a reminder to stand together and to continue to work together with ever greater urgency against ignorance, prejudice and hatred. Hatred and violence targeting any community because of its faith and belief are scourges that cannot be tolerated. There must be freedom for all communities to worship and practise their faith freely and without fear.
Terrorists and other violent extremists usually draw on extreme political ideologies or, in some cases, selectively, on religious writings in ways which can distort and pervert their fundamental values and intent. It is vital that there is greater faith literacy within as well as about our different faith traditions and that informed voices within those speak out.
Some acts of terrorism are linked to particular political issues, for example instances of perceived imbalance of rights such those as freedom of expression and freedom of religion, or even linked to a conviction that particular beliefs override such rights.
Therefore, alongside such security measures as are necessary, it is also vital that there is continuing commitment to education and reasoned debate and discussion, working toward outcomes enabling people of even strongly differing perspectives to live well together.
We call for even greater focus to be given to tackling hateful discourse wherever it may manifest. We call also for increasing spaces for dialogue – within educational and other civil society institutions as well as within faith communities – about issues over which there is strong disagreement, as well as encouragement to take these issues up within the democratic process.
A statement on behalf of the Board and the Moderators
of the Faith Communities Forum of the Inter Faith Network for the UK
30 October 2020