The Oxford Foundation in partnership with The Lord-Lieutenancies of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, Oxford Diocese, and Oxford Muslim College held a United for Peace: Three Counties United Against Extremism Service at Dorney Lake, Dorney, Windsor on 20 April 2016.
United for Peace is a national initiative that draws United Kingdom’s diverse communities together to affirm the values that unite us. The values of respect, love, peace, compassion, and understanding as opposed to the narratives that extremists advocate of ugliness of division, hatred, and violence.
The Service held at Dorney Lake in the backdrop of a pleasant summer’s evening incorporated readings from different faith (and non faith) traditions affirming the shared values that unite us, interspersed with moments of silent reflection and beautiful music. In attendance amongst many senior faith-non faith and senior civic leaders was Ahmad Nawaz, survivor of the Military School, Peshawar, Pakistan who gave a passionate speech on the important role that education has in addressing the root causes of terrorism and how he has pledged his life to campaign in spreading the message of peace, love and compassion. Mike Hains whose brother David Hains was killed at the hand of terrorists in Syria in 2014 gave a reflective speech on the importance of fighting against hatred, intolerance and fear. He affirmed that terrorists whatever their political or religious make up seek to destroy our way of life. They want to turn community against community; they want people to commit hate crimes. Our country Great Britain has many many ethnic groups living here. We have such a great opportunity to learn from each other and to explore our different cultures and religions. By creating lines of communication between our communities we can overcome the fear that terrorists seek to sow.
The Service was concluded by a pledge for peace to stand united against all those who propagate hate and violence towards others and against all forms of violent extremism. Similar events have previously been held in Oxford (Oxford Spires Academy) and in Birmingham (University of Birmingham) Reported By S M Irfan Tahir