Appeals for calm after killing of Drummer Lee Rigby

The National Church Leaders Forum has condemned the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich this week and pleaded for calm amid reports of a backlash against the Muslim community.

Leaders in the forum, which exists to offer a black Christian voice on current affairs, condemned Rigby's murder as an "act of barbarism" and said they were standing in "prayerful solidarity" with his friends and family.

"We condemn it in the strongest terms as something that has no place in any civilised society," they said.

"Those who perpetuate such atrocities forfeit their right to participate in our multicultural and multi-faith community; and they must know they will never be allowed to destroy our hope of a peaceful, prosperous and cohesive United Kingdom and world."

They said Britain was facing major challenges in supporting youths to "resist radicalised ideologies that feed local and global terror practised by those willing to die for what they misguidedly believe".

"We call upon all sections of our community to remain calm and continue to work together to ensure our communities remain safe places for all our citizens, especially our children and grandchildren," they said.

Leaders in the forum include Pastor Ade Amooba, Dr David Muir, Dr Joe Aldred, Pastor Celia Appiagyei-Collins and Dionne Gravesande.

They concluded: "It is our hope and prayer that all faith and community leaders will increase their efforts to ensure that every local community remains united in peace and good will."

Their appeal for calm came as the Faith Matters group warned that there had been an increase in anti-Muslim incidents since Rigby's murder.  

The organisation said it had received 162 calls to its helpline since Wednesday, an increase from its daily average of six.  

There have been reports of attacks on mosques, racist postings on social media sites, and verbal abuse against Muslims.   

Fiyaz Mughal, director of Faith Matters, told BBC Radio Five Live: "What's really concerning is the spread of these incidents. They're coming in from right across the country.

"Secondly, some of them are quite aggressive very focused, very aggressive attacks.

"And thirdly, there also seems to be significant online activity... suggesting co-ordination of incidents and attacks against institutions or places where Muslims congregate."