Archbishop condemns 'evil' attacks on Muslims

The Archbishop of Canterbury meets school children visiting the Sikh Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha during a visit to Southall, London(Photo: Marc Gascoigne)

The Archbishop of Canterbury has condemned attacks on Muslims in the wake of Drummer Lee Rigby's murder as "acts of evil".

The Most Reverend Justin Welby's comments came on the same day as the Muslim Council of Britain called for "urgent" government action to address the "unprecedented escalation of violence" since Rigby's killing in Woolwich in May.

Speaking to an interfaith audience in Southall, the Archbishop said the attacks on Muslims were "inexcusable, unacceptable and a scandal to a tradition of hospitality in this country of which we should be deeply proud and which has contributed far more to us than it has taken from us".

The Archbishop told the audience at Featherstone High School that diversity was a "gift not a threat" and that he did not want to live in a "monocultural" society.

He added: "I want, as I have already done, to acknowledge the pressure that our Muslim friends and colleagues have faced over the last few weeks. There have been terrible attacks, I know that the vast majority of those in this country and especially people of faith would join me in condemning utterly any act of violence against anyone because of their faith.

"We want you to know that we stand with you, we will do so privately and publicly. We will do so persistently and I pray in the grace of God, persuasively. We will do all we can to support the security forces, the police, in bringing to justice those who seek to spread hate and cause division in our community."

Earlier in the day, the Archbishop visited St John's Church, the Shree Ram Mandir Hindu Temple, the Sikh Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, and the Central Jamia Masjid Mosque.

He has designated a £25,000 grant from his discretionary fund to set up a new centre focused on regeneration and reconciliation in the area.

The King Centre will be hosted by five Southall churches and work to increase religious literacy and support local faith groups in their contribution to civic life. The staff will comprise Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.

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