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Norwich churches rally round arson-hit mosque 

Anglican churches in Norwich have spoken out in solidarity with Muslim brothers and sisters following an alleged arson attack on the developing £1m Aylsham Road mosque in the city in the early hours of Monday morning.

The July 27 attack, whose fire caused severe damage to the toilet and washing facilities on the recently renovated building, has left faith communities concerned about the vulnerability of religious buildings and eager to extend the hand of friendship and solidarity across faiths.

Rev Martin Hartley and Rach Hartley from St Catherine’s Church, Mile Cross, and vicar of St Luke’s, Rev Sarah Quantrill, also on the Aylsham Road expressed shock that such an attack could occur in Norwich.

“We stand alongside our Muslim friends and neighbours at this time. This attack does not represent who we are as a people in Norwich. We pray that the mosque is quickly repaired and look forward to welcoming the Islamic community into the Aylsham Road area when renovations are complete,” they said in a statement.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Rev Graham Usher, also expressed inter-faith solidarity: “I am deeply saddened to learn of the fire at the Aylsham Road Mosque and I’m appalled that it was potentially started by arson,” he said. “Norwich is known as a city of welcome. If such a crime has been committed then we are all diminished. I stand with my Muslim brothers and sisters at this sad time and commit to building the common good alongside them.”

While the attack has caused much distress, the mosque and local community, including the parishioners of St Catherine’s and St Luke’s, stand united in solidarity, determined to build deeper relationships and understanding.
 
Pictured above is the site of the former King Edward VII pub site on Aylsham Road in Norwich which is being redeveloped as a new £1m mosque. Picture courtesy of Google Street View.
 

Keith Morris, 29/07/2020

Keith Morris

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