People of all faiths came together for a special vigil in Leicester this weekend, designed as a show of unity against the violence which has recently erupted in the East of the city.
The vigil, which took place on Sunday (October 2), saw many congregate at the city’s Church of the Resurrection, to pray for “unity, reconciliation, harmony and peace” among the multi-faith communities of Leicester.
Members of Leicester’s Hindu and Muslim communities, were among those who attended the service as a show of unity against the violence which has been ongoing recently in the east of the city.
A small section of these communities have been involved in violent clashes throughout the past month, causing significant unrest.
Father Paskal Clement, priest in charge at Church of the Resurrection, said that the service was an “important show of unity,” against the disorder taking place.
“It is so important and essential to send a really clear and loud message to the groups that are disturbing the peace and unity in our city,” he said.
“It’s important to show that we are all united and we won’t tolerate what they are doing in our city.
“It was good to see a high number of people coming from different communities; the Hindu community, Sikh community, the Muslim community, and they were all here really being united, and also conveying the message that we are peaceful citizens and we are value this peace, calm and harmony in our city,” he added.
“That’s really the message that I wanted to convey to the world, especially to the Leicester people. That we are all one – we’re all united and we value each others customs, traditions and faiths.”
The event was attended by Rt Revd Martyn Snow, Bishop of Leicester and other faith leaders, while candles were lit by member of the community.
“Candles are a symbol of light – so the idea is that when we light the candles, we are dispelling the darkness of violence and hatred from our community,” said Harminder Singh, Secretary of Gurdwara Council Leicester, who was also in attendance.
“It’s also a symbol of harmony and unity – that we are together. We are people of light and not of darkness and hatred.”
Asked for his thoughts on those responsible for the violence, he said: “It’s always a small group that does it and then the whole community gets tarnished, no matter which community you’re from. It’s a matter of the community coming together, recognising who that small group is and speaking to them. It’s not about punishing them, if they’ve done something wrong according to the rule of law in this country. They need to be educated into how to live in this country.”
The service was organised by Church of the Resurrection together with Leicester Council of Faiths.
Fayaz Suleman Chairman of Leicester Council of Faiths, said: “There is more work that needs to be done to actually reach those young people, and the key factor is educating them about what is acceptable and what’s not acceptable.
“Leicester was a beacon of diversity and cohesion for many many decades, and when I heard that there were young people coming together who are frustrated, angry, I actually took the time to go there on the ground and speak to the young people and ask them to calm down, and understand what their grievances were.
“Events like these – the peace vigils help in trying to demonstrate that although we’ve had this trouble or blip in our cohesion, overall we are together and we are united, and we are actually resolute in identifying the root causes, and dealing with the root causes, so we don’t have a repetition of what’s happened.”