Multi-faith group condemns planned anti-Islam rally in London

Members of PEGIDA protested at London City Hall before making their way to Victoria Park on July 22, 2017. Christian D'Avino / AM980

Backlash against a planned anti-Islam rally this weekend continues to grow and now an interfaith group is adding its voice to the mix.

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The Centre for Jewish-Catholic-Muslim Learning based out of King’s University College released a statement saying that “when one of us is being marginalized or threatened, we are all marginalized and threatened.”

“As a centre, we thought that we could make a very strong statement to indicate that we have no time or tolerance for any forms of bigotry in our community,” chair of the centre, Fr. Michael Bechard, told AM980.

“We ask that other people of faith – and really all folks of good will – stand together with us to make sure that London is a safe place for all of God’s people.”

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PEGIDA Canada, also known as People of Canada Against the Islamization of the West, say the Aug. 26 Freedom Rally at 12 p.m. is to “educate the public about Islamization the government’s facilitation of it.”

In response, members of People of the Peace London and the London chapter of Council of Canadians have organized an anti-hate rally.

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Bechard invoked the poem First they came… written by German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller after the Second World War.

“He talked about the growth and support that the Nazis received in Germany and that as they came looking for the socialists he didn’t speak up for them, when they came for the trade unionists he didn’t speak up for them, when they came for the Jews he didn’t speak up for them. Finally, when they came for him and his people there was no one left to speak,” he said.

“It’s important for all of us to defend the rights of everyone because there may be a time when we need our own rights defended.”

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The centre was founded in 2004 when a group of faith leaders came together over concerns of a local and national rise in anti-Semitism. The centre aims to educate the community and foster respect and understanding.

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