in News November 11, 2016

Faith leaders visit to France

This weekend, people of all faiths stand in silence to mark the sacrifice of those who died fighting for this country. There is a greater recognition than ever of the role played by people of different faiths, including Islam in the World Wars of the last century.

But in the last few days another important gathering took place in remembrance of a more recent loss of life. Strengthening Faith Institutions Network organised a Civic and Faith Leaders Mission to France to commemorate the terrorist attacks in Paris and Normandy a year ago.


The Mission to France started off with a visit to ‘The Grand Mosque of Paris’ where the contingent met with the Theological Director of the Paris Mosque, Sheikh Djelloul Seddiki. The group discussed the history of the mosque and how the Muslim community in Paris has been able to build bridges with the wider community. Reverend Nadim Nassar remarked that “this was an opportunity for the delegation to learn and look to apply some of the positive collaboration”. Particularly around stronger interfaith initiatives at a grass roots level.

The group also visited the church in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, where the 85-year-old Catholic Priest Rev Jacques Hamel was brutally murdered. The delegation attended mass and assured the congregation that they stood in solidarity in this difficult time for the Catholic community. An open dialogue took place regarding the challenges that lie ahead and steps that need to be taken jointly.  One of the youngest members of the delegation Dawood Masood reflected that “members of the delegation and the clergy were resolute not to let terrorists dictate the course of history and divide communities”.

One of the focal points of the trip was the visit to the Bataclan theatre to pay their respects. Amina Inoles stated that “pain, grief, disbelief and horror were the emotions that enclosed us all – Muslims and Christians – whilst standing outside the Bataclan theatre”.

The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF – Conseil Représentatif des Institutions juives de France), also met the delegation and spoke about their experiences (including the attack on the kosher supermarket last year).

This mission to France allowed the group to ponder the successful coexistence taking place here in the UK and the importance of showing solidarity with the various French communities. The commemoration of the Paris attacks, Remembrance Sunday and the start of Interfaith Week all fall on the same day.


In addition to events taking place during Interfaith week, a small group of faith leaders will be traveling to France on Remembrance Sunday to visit the graves of fallen soldiers of World War 1. The group will highlight unique stories like that of a Jewish soldier buried amongst the graves of over a hundred Muslim soldiers from the colonies, whilst behind are a number of Christian tombs.

With these sorts of initiatives, the delegation hope to engage effectively with those of other faiths and none, as well as reaffirm the message of solidarity and co-existence that was reiterated throughout the trip.

This week, as always, Faith Forums stands with anyone who stands for unity.

The Mission to France was made up of the following delegation of Civic, Faith Leaders and Interfaith Activists:

Reverend Nadim Nassar – Co-founder Awareness Foundation.

Sayyed Muhammad Musawi –  World Al-Bayt Islamic League.

Dawood Masood  – Senior Youth Worker Al Hira Mosque Luton.

Amina Inoles –  Lecturer at Islamic College.

Adam Aslam – Chaplain at the University of Bradford.

Kris Isa – Revert Ethnic Minority Partnership.

Khadar Egeh – Youth Leader in Salaam Centre.

Zia Mahiuddin – President of Maidenhead Mosque.

Sheikh Muhammad Yazdani – London Fatwa Council.

Imam Qari Muhammad Asim – Leeds Mekkah Masjid.

Hafiz Umar Qadri – Senior Imam and Chairmen of Suffah Foundation.

Mustafa Field – Director of Faiths Forum for London.

Zahra Imame – Interfaith activist.

Luc Ferier – Researcher on role of Muslims in World War 1 & 2.

Vera Mathys – Researcher on role of Muslims in World War 1 & 2.

Mohomed Ali – Policy & Projects Officer Faiths Forum for London.



in News November 11, 2016