East Londoners called on to reject fear and stand together
The Bishop of Stepney, the Rt Revd Adrian Newman, led a vigil at St John on Bethnal Green church last night for the victims of the Westminster attack, sharing the message that hate will not divide the people of Tower Hamlets and urging neighbours to look after each other.
Attendees, including the Mayor of Tower Hamlets, councillors, a police representative and local residents of many faiths, laid spring flowers to express solidarity with those who lost their lives or were injured.
The Bishop of Stepney said:
“The vigil was a public space for people of all faiths and none to grieve, to reject fear, and to stand together in solidarity. It was an important reminder that we should never take our freedoms for granted, but stand side by side to celebrate and defend the wonderful kaleidoscopic diversity of communities like ours.
“The word ‘terrorism’ says it all. The whole point of the Westminster attack was to make people afraid, to strike terror into people’s hearts. Fear is a weapon. It divides people, inhibits the sort of relationships that characterise a healthy society, and paralyses action for the common good. But we will not give in to Fear. Instead we will face it down with Hope. Our ‘weapons’ in this vigil were spring flowers to symbolise life overcoming death, the lighting of candles of hope against the darkness of fear, and pens mightier than swords to signify our commitment to honour and value one another within our diversity.”
The Revd Preb. Alan Green, Chair of the Tower Hamlets Interfaith Forum said:
“At very short notice sixty people came together in St John’s church – representing different politics, faiths, cultures – but united in a common grief and a common determination to maintain and celebrate the diversity that is the hallmark of Tower Hamlets.”
John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, who lit a candle for the victims said:
“Londoners of all backgrounds have shown our community stands together in the wake Wednesday’s attack. Our great city has always been and will remain a beacon of freedom, tolerance and diversity. These kind of cowardly acts will not divide us.”