As extremists attempt to divide our communities, and even seek to hijack Christian symbols to do so, it is important to state clearly and loudly that it is the duty of all Christians in this country to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters who suffer hate speech, violence or prejudice.
This duty falls particularly, but by no means exclusively, on the Church of England. Her Majesty the Queen, in a speech to faith leaders at Lambeth Palace in 2012, gave an eloquent reminder that the role of the established church is,
“not to defend Anglicanism to the exclusion of other religions. Instead, the Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country”.
We stand, therefore, resolutely for freedom of conscience and for a society in which the open and public practice of faith is rigorously protected.
The greatest impact of Islamophobia is of course felt within our Muslim communities, especially perhaps by Muslim women. We have heard moving accounts, especially from the noble Baronesses, Lady Warsi and Lady Burt, of the reality of the personal impact of bigotry on the lives of our fellow citizens. We should also remember that hatred which isolates us from one another impoverishes us all, socially, economically and culturally. As the noble Lord, Lord Sacks, has argued, a society that values integration without assimilation allows us all to bring our particular gifts as contributions to the common good,
“not to ourselves and our communities alone but to all of us and the life we share”.
Read it all.