Faith leaders unite against bigotry

The Jesuits of Stamford Hill have joined other faith leaders in North London to denounce cultural and religious intolerance. Fr David Smolira SJ, the parish priest of St Ignatius Church was among the group of religious leaders from Stamford Hill’s Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities who came together in a display of unity, ahead of a march planned by a far-right group that is objecting to what it calls the ‘Jewification’ of the area.

“The expressions of solidarity were unambiguous and came from all our neighbours and friends of every background,” Rabbi Abraham Pinter said. “The threatened march has only served to bring our communities even closer together.”

Stamford Hill has a considerable ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. The ‘Liberate Stamford Hill’ march was originally scheduled for 23 March; however, following the arrest of its organiser, it now due to take place on 2 May.

Solidarity

Joining members of the Jewish community at the meeting at the offices of Interlink Foundation in Stamford Hill were Muslim representative Eusoof Amerat, a trustee of Masjid-e-Quba, and Christian pastors Father David Smolira SJ, Reverend Charles Card-Reynolds and Father William Taylor, the parish priest of St Thomas’s Church.

“The living out of our faith means challenging injustice and bigotry wherever it appears,” said Fr Smolira. “People of faith in Stamford Hill are committed to working together for the benefit of the whole community. And that means more than simply through words, so it is good to see such a public and warm display of solidarity, support and friendship as this.”

The gathering was also attended by the Director of ‘Interfaith Matters’, Steven Derby, who stressed the importance of community members working together to resist prejudice. “It’s been a privilege to work with communities so committed to convivial relations, public benefit and prepared to stand against fascists that would otherwise fracture a cohesive neighbourhood,” he said.

Photo (left to right): Steven Derby, Eusoof Amerat, Fr William Taylor, Rabbi Abraham Pinter, Fr David Smolira SJ, Revd Charles Card-Reynolds, Rabbi Jehudah Baumgarten (credit: Interfaith Matters)