I was reading on the BBC’s webpage a story about Violence and Religion that was very disturbing.
Turns out there is a level of violence in the East end of London that has made it’s way to the doorsteps pf vicars. On the past few weeks there have been two very violent attacks on clergy who have been seeking to keep some peace on their church grounds. You can read the whole story by clicking here.
Police have now stepped up and are offering protection to Vicars in that part of the city. There was some controversy over the whole matter when a group called Churchwatch suggested that when Violence is perpetrated against a mosque or an Imam it is considered violence and that in this instance it is seen as just violence. Interestingly, the Muslim community denounced the violence as ‘cowardly and despicable.’ The police described this as a ‘hate-crime.’ The concern of this neighbourhood, which is highly Muslim, is continuing to foster closer relationships. Dilowar Khan, head of the East London Mosque did not want these violent incidents to affect "the hard work of communities in Tower Hamlets to create social harmony." I was pleased to hear of this response of the Islamic leaders of that community. Tolerance is a big deal and sadly, violence brings out that sense of the very worst in communities. It is a sad statement that we might feel that the violence advanced toward one group of people should get more or less recognition than another. What seems to be happening in this instance is a coming together of the community. The police and the church leadership have come together to denounce the violence and suggest that violence is wrong and should be put to a stop. They have also come to say that the few disenfranchised and angry youth should not have the final say in a community. I hope that the leadership involved also come address the social situations that sense of anger and violence in the first place.
All of this takes courage. Eleanor Roosevelt said that “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” My prayer is that the vicars involved and the religious leadership of London will take courage to do that which they think they cannot do. By so doing they will affect peace and chance and we will all be better for it. Let us pray that we too might address our own fear in hopes for courage to change.