The Reporter
Issue 489, 24 March 2003
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Interfaith forum affirms opposition to war


Members of the interfaith forum signing the joint statement

Signing in good faith – (l-r) Daniella Shaw, David Hodges, Laura Randall (Christian Focus), Graham Kogan (LUU racial minorities representative), Nick Lock (Islamic society), Nick Baker and Diane Compton (LUU societies officer)

Campus religious leaders and student faith societies urged religious communities and the British government to resolve the situation in Iraq by non-violent means, in a joint statement expressing concern for the people of Iraq and offering support to Iraqi students in the UK.

Methodist chaplain Reverend Nick Baker said: “We recognise that the political situation has the potential to create tensions across the different communities. We wanted to reaffirm our commitment to talking and working together, to show public solidarity between the faiths.”

Daniella Shaw of the Jewish Society agreed: “We don’t want events around the world to have a negative effect on the good work we’ve done together in the interfaith forum. We might not always agree on all the issues, but it’s important to show that we stand together.”

The statement by the chaplains and LUU faith societies says: “We acknowledge the complex political situation that exists and do not view this conflict as a conflict of religions.”

Rabbi David Hodges, Jewish chaplain for all Yorkshire universities, praised the Leeds interfaith forum, which has been meeting on campus for 18 months: “It’s about keeping lines of communication open, and providing the opportunity for people to talk to each other. This has helped to build positive relationships and create a peaceful and accepting atmosphere on campus. It’s something which would be beneficial for other universities, and it would be nice to see such a positive initiative take off across the UK.”

The signed statement will be displayed in the students’ union and the chaplaincy, with copies for each faith society. The text is as follows:

We, the representatives of different faith groups at the University of Leeds affirm the positive work we have shared in over the past couple of years. We recognise this is not always easy and conflicts around the world can create tensions amongst the University faith communities. We remain committed to sharing our understanding of faith with one another and to continue working together to promote a deeper understanding of different faiths amongst our own faith groups and the wider University community.

Our religions teach us of the absolute need to respect human life and to oppose injustice and oppression. We are deeply concerned for the well-being of the people of Iraq, recognising the damage inflicted by internal oppression and external sanctions. We offer our support to Iraqi students in this country and urge our religious communities and the British Government to listen to the people of Iraq and do all in their power to resolve the current situation by non-violent means. We encourage our faith groups to continue to pray and work for a Just Peace to be established.

We acknowledge the complex political situation that exists and do not view this conflict as a conflict of religions. As such we affirm our intention to: carry on working together; engage in peaceful dialogue; and promote greater awareness of our faiths, encouraging fullness of life as we perceive it from our faith perspectives. We encourage all members of our faith communities and those of no faith background to share in this dialogue to establish common ground whilst respecting our differences.



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