Diocese of Portsmouth

    Bishop visits mosque to express solidarity

    21 Aug. 2017

    THE bishop visited Portsmouth’s largest mosque to express solidarity with local Muslims in the wake of the Spanish terror attacks.

    Bishop Christopher reassured hundreds of worshippers in the city’s Jami Mosque of his conviction that those who claimed to kill in the name of Islam were not Islamic. He reaffirmed his commitment that terrorist acts would not divide people of faith.

    His visit to Friday Prayers had been organised weeks beforehand, but events in Barcelona and Cambrils the previous day had made his visit highly relevant. Many of the worshippers present shook his hand afterwards and thanked him for coming.

    Bishop Christopher said: “We meet once again in the shadow of murderous events. Yesterday’s brutal killings in Barcelona and the apparent thwarting of a further attack in Cambrils are further examples of indiscriminate terror.

    “Confronted again by actions of people who murder and maim in Manchester or Paris, on London Bridge or Westminster, in Aleppo or Finsbury Park it is appropriate for us, as people of God, to reaffirm our commitment to what builds community and unites us, of faith or indeed of none, in contrast to the actions and voices of those few who would divide us.

    “I am here today to say that fear and hatred will not defeat the values we share. Those who died and those injured were denied the respect, dignity and sanctity of life which we believe is God given.

    “Emphasis on what divides may perhaps be inevitable and understandable in reaction to brutal acts as people search for an explanation. It is claimed that the actions of perpetrators have been inspired and orchestrated by IS. It is clear to me that IS is not Islamic; by using Islamic in its name it misuses your faith.

    “Actions like those we saw yesterday do not honour the tenets and doctrines of faith, and are not representative of Muslims, and no motivation can justify these murderous acts. We proclaim that peace and justice are God-given. There is nothing peaceful in indiscriminate slaughter, nothing just about random acts of terrorism.

    “I come today to say that clearly and publicly, and to express solidarity and unity within our distinctive beliefs and faiths. Division and mistrust are not the way forward we choose in this country and in this city or between us. We unite in prayer for those injured, for their families and friends, for those bereaved and who mourn.

    “We give thanks to God for the lives of those brutally killed, and for the courage and skill of those who brought support and care. We seek to build and grow friendships and relationships under God - not to preach hatred and violence - and so to serve our community and country as well as God.”

    Bishop Christopher, his chaplain Canon David Isaac and interfaith adviser the Rev Andy Marshall, were welcomed by the imam, Muhammad Muhi Uddin, and others from the mosque committee.

    The bishop previously visited the Al Mahdi Mosque near Fareham in March in the wake of Westminster terror attack.

    Bishop Christopher meets worshippers after Friday Prayers at the Jami Mosque in Portsmouth