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Faith leaders come together in Barking to lead prayers 24 years after Srebrenica massacre

PUBLISHED: 14:47 11 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:54 11 July 2019

L-R: Cllr Muhammad Saleem, Bishop Trevor Mwamba, Mayor Peter Chand, Imam Hafiz Abu Bakar Yusuf and Rabbi Lee Sunderland. Picture: Jon King

L-R: Cllr Muhammad Saleem, Bishop Trevor Mwamba, Mayor Peter Chand, Imam Hafiz Abu Bakar Yusuf and Rabbi Lee Sunderland. Picture: Jon King

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Faith leaders have urged tolerance at a flag-raising ceremony marking 24 years since more than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred in the Srebrenica genocide.

Cllr Lynda Rice with the Remembering Srebrenica flag outside Barking Town Hall. Picture: Jon KingCllr Lynda Rice with the Remembering Srebrenica flag outside Barking Town Hall. Picture: Jon King

Imam Hafiz Abu Bakar Yusuf of Al Madina Mosque, Barking, joined Bishop Trevor Mwamba and Rabbi Lee Sunderland to deliver prayers outside the town hall on Thursday.

Bishop Mwamba said: "As we commemorate we remember that over 8,000 families still feel the pain. We remember too that humnaity is indivisible and that when one person is in pain, all are pained.

"We should strive to create a better world built on love, compassion and tolerance."

About 80 people lowered their heads for a minute's silence before the Remembering Srebrenica flag was raised in memory of the 8,372 victims of the 11-day long massacre which began on July 11, 1995, during the war in Bosnia.

Pupils from Gascoigne Primary read the poem Tormented Hearts. Picture: Jon KingPupils from Gascoigne Primary read the poem Tormented Hearts. Picture: Jon King

Four Gascoigne Primary pupils read from memory the poem Tormented Hearts by Mihab Sheikh which included the line: "Sadness hangs over Srebrenica, like a dark cloud ready to spill dark secrets".

Eleven-year-old Fazil said afterwards: "People need to be aware of what happened so there isn't another massacre."

Imam Hafiz told the crowd: "We honour the men and boys murdered in the genocide 24 years ago, their mothers and survivors."

He was followed by Rabbi Sunderland of Romford & District synagogue who asked how such a massacre could be prevented from happening again.

"If you can bully because of someone's religion, race or sexual orientation then you don't understand or appreciate love.

"Think everyday about who you are, what you are and what you have achieved and be proud of yourself. Then look at your neighbour and be proud of him or her or they. And then we can ask for peace."

After prayers, Barking and Dagenham Council leader, Darren Rodwell, made a speech in which he said that the borough had not seen hatred on the same scale as that witnessed in Srebrenica.

"But the hatred was the same hatred. Our men and women have lost the purpose of faith. It's not there to bully, intimidate and victimise. It's there to bring people together," Cllr Rodwell said.

Following the ceremony people went inside the town hall to read poems and admire artwork by pupils from Eastbury Community School.

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