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Archbishop of Canterbury condemns 'unacceptable' attacks on Muslims

Archbishop of Canterbury condemns 'unacceptable' attacks on Muslims
The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he does not want to live in a "monocultural" society and condemned "unacceptable" and "inexcusable" attacks on Muslims over recent weeks.

The Most Rev Justin Welby said the attacks on mosques were "evil actions" Photo: STEPHEN LOCK

By News agencies
July 22, 2013

Speaking at Featherstone High School in Southall, west London, the Most Rev Justin Welby described attacks on mosques in the wake of the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby earlier this year as "evil actions".

"The attacks on minority ethnic groups across the country that there have been over the last few weeks are inexecusable, 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," he said.

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."

Welby told his audience that diversity was a "gift not a threat" and he did not want to live in a "monocultural" society. He said he "rejoiced" in the example of inter faith cooperation and community work he had witnessed in Southall.

"Diversity is a gift, not a threat, it is a hope, not a danger," he said.

"The kind of country I want to live in has as one of its best examples what goes on in this area. I don't want to live in something that is monocultural."

Earlier today the Home Secretary, Theresa May said she was "shocked and sickened" by bomb attacks on three mosques in the West Midlands and the murder of 82-year-old Asian grandfather Mohammed Saleem, which are being treated as acts of terrorism.

May said she had pledged her full support to anti-terror officers questioning a Ukrainian man on suspicion of murdering Saleem last month and asked the officer in charge of the inquiry to keep her informed of any developments in the investigation.

Two Ukrainian men, aged 25 and 22, were arrested in Birmingham on Thursday by officers investigating blasts which occurred near mosques in Walsall, Tipton and Wolverhampton.

Welby's comments came after a visit to St John's Church, the Shree Ram Mandir Hindu Temple and the Sikh Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, where 20,000 free meals are served every week in Southall. The Archbishop also met Muslim leaders, currently observing the Ramadan fast, at the Central Jamia Masjid Mosque in Southall.

He said that the work done by different faiths he had witnessed in Southall were an example of the "kind of country that I am proud to be in."

"It is hard to say that religion is a spent force when you come to Southall, this is something that people need to see and hear, it is hard to argue against diversity in a place like this," the Most Rev Welby said.

During his visit the Archbishop announced a £25,000 grant from a discretionary fund for a new centre hosted by Christians in Southall but providing a range of services including debt counselling to all groups.

Edited for Telegraph.co.uk by Joel Gunter.

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