Mayor Fiaz statement on interfaith vigil

Statement from Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz OBE

As we continue to see the heart-breaking coverage of the Israel – Hamas war and the devastating impact on human life, I redouble the calls by the United Nations for humanitarian aid to be stepped up so that the people of Gaza, young and old, are given life-saving food, water, medicines and electricity; and for international law to be upheld by all.

The diplomatic efforts leading to the release of two hostages yesterday is an important step and all must be released so they can home to their loved ones; with an international focus on peace. Hearing the news this morning that aid trucks have now entered Gaza from Egypt is a life-saving moment for the innocent Gazan civilians who shouldn’t be held to account because of the actions of terrorists and the horrific impact of war. 

A big concern for all of us will be the impact that the war is having on our communities in Newham, from all faiths and none. I know that there are some trying to tear us apart, when we need to come together as a community to provide comfort, encourage dialogue to deepen understanding, respect and peace.

As agreed at the Full Council meeting earlier this week, there is an important interfaith vigil taking place tomorrow where community and faith leaders are coming together for a moment of reflection. The vigil will take place in the park at the back of St John’s Church, Stratford, E15 1N tomorrow (Sunday 22 October 2023), starting at 1pm. Please extend this invitation to all you think may want to attend.

Our greatest strength is the diversity of our people and our community. Please join us in a moment of reflection in unity and solidarity with those who mourn and those who have been displaced, injured, or are missing loved ones as a result of the events unfolding in Israel and Gaza.

As the impact of the Israel-Hamas war is felt across the world, we have witnessed a dangerous surge in antisemitism and Islamophobia in London and across the UK. I met with a group of Muslim women from all backgrounds on Monday and they spoke in stark terms about anti-Muslim hate they experience daily and their fears for being out on the streets, using public transport and for their families and loved ones. I have also spoken to Jewish friends who are fearful about the same. 

We urge everyone to report any hate crimes to the police, as we work with them to ensure the safety of all our residents during these worrying times. If you experience or witness antisemitism, you can also report to the Community Security Trust which has a dedicated team to help and provide victim support confidentially; and the Islamophobia Response Unit which provides confidential advice and support to anyone facing anti-Muslim hate and prejudice. Contact details below.

Published: 21 Oct 2023