LONDON: A UK interfaith coalition comprising religious, political and civic leaders, as well as grieving relatives of some of those killed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, held a vigil Sunday in London.
Hundreds gathered mid-afternoon in frigid conditions opposite Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Downing Street office and residence to “give a voice to the majority of the public who stand against hate”, organisers said.
The grouping, Together for Humanity, aimed to highlight its nascent movement against rising anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hate with the event, dubbed “Building Bridges”.
It was spearheaded by Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered British lawmaker Jo Cox, and supported by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby as well as a leading British rabbi, imam and peace activists.
British-Israeli Magen Inon, whose parents were killed in Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, was among the speakers.
Others included Palestinian peace activist Hamze Awawde, who lives in Ramallah in the Palestinian Territories and has had relatives injured recently in the conflict.
Together for Humanity has emerged since Israel began bombing Gaza in response to the October 7 attack, which has prompted a spike in anti-Semitism in Britain.
At least 1,747 incidents were recorded between October 7 and November 29 by the Community Security Trust, whose role is to protect the UK’s Jewish community.
Meanwhile, London and other UK cities have seen large-scale protests on recent weekends in support of Palestinians in Gaza, which have polarised public opinion and been blamed for stoking social divisions.
Ahead of the vigil, Cox, a father of two, said the “loudest and most extreme voices have drowned out the vast majority of the public” when it came to the conflict.
His wife was killed by a Nazi sympathiser days before Britain’s contentious 2016 Brexit referendum, and he subsequently co-founded the Together Coalition charity.
It is supporting the vigils initiative, which began last month to honour “Palestinians and Israelis, Muslims and Jews, everyone suffering from this war”.
Organisers have said they are intended to be a “sombre moment of reflection and togetherness — without flags or placards”.
“We’re working to turn a moment into a movement — one that holds hope for peace, stands against prejudice, and reminds us all of the importance of placing our common humanity above all else,” they added.