IN A showing of unity that reflected the strength of togetherness people across the world have shown in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks, people from all faiths from across Leeds came together to remember victims of terrorism last night.
An hour-long Service for Paris was held at Leeds Minster which saw members of the public join local dignitaries and community leaders.
The service was led by The Reverend Canon Sam Corley and The Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Dr Ingrid Roscoe, to show solidarity for terror victims around the world. As well as the 130 people who were murdered in the French capital on November 13, another 43 people were killed in bombings in Beirut, Lebanon a day earlier, and 20 people died in a hotel siege in Mali on Friday.
Among the attendees at church service was West Yorkshire’s Honorary Consul for France, Jeremy Burton, the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Judith Chapman, Qari Muhammad Asim, chief imam at the city’s Makkah Masjid, and Selina Ullah, of the Muslim Women’s Council; all of whom gave readings.
In his opening prayer Canon Sam Corley said: “We come together to share our grief and to comfort one another; to find strength and to foster resilience; and to affirm that, even in darkness, the light of faith and the flame of hope burn strong.
“We stand together as residents of this city and district, determined to remain tolerance of difference and respectful of diversity.”
Hymns were sung with accompaniment by the church choir and as the service drew to a close, a candle was lit and a minute’s silence was observed to remember all those affected by the Paris attacks. Representatives from Leeds’ different faith communities then made a pledge to work together to foster mutual trust between communities.
The service concluded with the British National Anthem.
Afterwards, Mr Asim said: “Love not hatred, peace not war is the way forward.
“The terrorists want to plant seeds of division in the community and the multi-faith service here was a powerful demonstration of faith communities being together and saying that terror shouldn’t be committed in the name of God.
“As a Muslim it was really reassuring to hear from the Rector of Leeds Minster a message of solidarity. The Muslim community feels a double victim in that they are forced to defend themselves and are suffering from a backlash of physical and verbal abuse.”
Mr Burton added: “As a representative of the people of France in Leeds, I would like to say how grateful I am for all the support we have had from all over the world, not least from the service we have had here this evening.”