In response to the Christ Church NZ terrorist massacre
What do you say after such an evil act?
At the heart of what I have to say to you, my fear Muslim friends, is this. And I want to say it as strongly as I can:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS.
You may feel incredibly alone. The terrorist certainly wanted you to feel alone. I, and many of us here do not understand the extent of how vulnerable you feel. Please, for all our insensitivity at such moments, our shallow and sometimes frankly foolish words, hear our hearts, and allow us to come close and hear you fears, concerns, anger, your frustration.
To all who’ve lost loved ones, to the Muslim people of New Zealand, the Churches of Luton send deep sympathy.
To the Muslim community of Luton, the same, and our solidarity.
I was talking to someone earlier whose son watched the shootings on line. That such evil could take place is bad enough, that it can be relayed live to the world worse, that it can continue to terrorise the minds of the young, the vulnerable, and frankly all of us is wrong, just wrong. That a national politician from the terrorists nation can justify it, and then his words be multiplied also wrong. We’ve a lot to take action on.
Ten years ago in Luton, right here, a protest took place that led to a anti Muslim street protest movement whose impact has gone around the world. Stephen Lennon, aka Tommy Robinson, didn’t plan what happened in NZ. But we know he and the EDL he founded, inspired Norwegian terrorist Anders Brievik, and Brievik inspired Brenton Tarrant. Luton is not the root of the problem, but sadly we feature in the story.
This cycle of hatred and bigotry must stop.
And I am challenged to hope that what began in Luton can end here. Ten years ago as the impact of the protests grew and led to an arson attack on the Islamic Centre, and as we faced another protest, the churches, the mosques, Luton council of faiths, made a strong statement in a press conference that was covered on the news. We committed that whatever the extremists on both sides did we would stand together to hold the centre ground.
We did. We’ve come a long way. But we cannot rest here.
As Christian leaders in the town we want to say here and now we are committed to look again at how we can work together to to make this town, this nation, a safe place for all, FOR YOU, a town where hatred and prejudice cannot stand. A town where you can have hope, and especially where your children can live without fear.
You are not alone.
A statement from Churches in Luton can be found here
and from the Bishops of St Albans Diocese here