Archbishop Justin Welby joins Muslim and Jewish leaders to call for unity following rise in antisemitism

The Archbishop of Canterbury said he had come together with other faith leaders to 'stand against any form of hatred or violence against Jewish people or any other community'


Archbishop Justin Welby has joined Muslim and Jewish leaders to call for unity between faith communities in the UK following a rise in hate crime in the wake of Hamas’ terror attack on Israel. 

According to the Community Security Trust (CST), there has been a 300 per cent rise in antisemitic incidents in the UK since the attack earlier this month. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra and Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg stood together outside Lambeth Palace on Tuesday and called for solidarity and rejected any form of hatred or discrimination. 

Speaking to attendees, the Archbishop of Canterbury said he and Sheikh Mogra, who is a imam from Leicester and a former assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, had come together to "stand against any form of hatred or violence against Jewish people or any other community.”  

He added: “I know that all of us are profoundly concerned by what is happening in Israel and Gaza – and here at Lambeth Palace we are praying constantly for all those who are caught up in this war that has already brought so much suffering to so many people.”  

Sheikh Mogra said it was deplorable and wrong” that the Jewish community had been a target of hate crimes following the attack. He added: “It is unacceptable that synagogues and Jewish centres have been targeted.

“I condemn these attacks and call on all fellow citizens to stand up and speak out against all and every form of hate.” 

He told attendees he was “deeply pained by what is happening in Palestine and Israel”, adding: “We have found some comfort and a lot of hope in our friendships that have been built over many years. 

“We stand together to express our shared commitment to protecting the relationship between our communities. 

“British Muslims and Jews have much in common and there are many personal ties between us.” 

He went on to say: “We have, and will sometimes be on opposite sides, but we live together as neighbours in peace and harmony, disagreeing with each other respectfully, without resorting to hate or violence.”  

Sheikh Mogra said it was the responsibility of religious leaders “to prevent violence and intimidation across our country, whether on the streets, in places of worship, in schools, in universities, or in any other institutions.” 

Rabbi Wittenberg, who is the Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism UK, and Rabbi of the New North London Synagogue said the Jewish community and its representative bodies “have long condemned and continue to condemn all racism directed against Muslims, from whatever source."

He added: “As leaders in the British Jewish and Muslim communities we affirm the importance of maintaining our relationships even, and especially, in troubled times.” 

In his statement, Rabbi Wittenberg acknowledged the leaders “sometimes have different loyalties, yet it is essential that we live together across the United Kingdom as neighbours and fellow citizens in peace and with respect. 

He continued: “We are both on the side of life. We share deep concern for the welfare of everyone and pray for a better future for all.” 

Meanwhile, in Leeds, British Muslim Julie Siddiqi assured Jews that they have friends and supporters among UK Muslims. 

In an address to Sinai Synagogue on Saturday, Siddiqi told congregants “your pain is my pain.” 

Siddiqi, who is a leading Muslim voice in interfaith work, expressed her solidarity with the Jewish community after the Hamas attack. 

She said: “I know that so many of you feel scared, and this week has been so tough for everyone. 

“In the Jewish community here and around the world, your pain is my pain”. 

Siddiqi continued: “I believe in a loving and merciful God, and I continue to pray for you all that your pain is eased. 

“Please know that you have friends and supporters among UK Muslims, Christians and people of all faiths and none.   

“And we will stand by you with love and support as and when you need it”. 

She added: “There are no easy or quick answers to any of this, but let's stand together in love and solidarity as friends and as cousins in faith.” 

Sinai community director Becky Teiger, said: “It was wonderful that Julie took the time to come and see us. 

“Her visit will strengthen the already positive relations we have with the Muslim community across the city.” 

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