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25 July 2018, 11:10 | Updated: 25 July 2018, 12:28
Religious leaders in Exeter and the police are calling for unity, tolerance and mutual respect.
A joint statement has been released by the Bishop of Exeter, President of Exeter Synagogue, Exeter Mosque, Exeter City Council and Devon and Cornwall Police following recent events in the City and commentary nationally around hate crime.
President of the Synagogue, Mr Richard Halsey said "The Synagogue would like to sincerely thank local police for their brilliant initial response and the ongoing proactive and thorough investigation and support. Whilst we can’t comment further due to legal proceedings, this is an opportune time to highlight how the community of Exeter has come together to demonstrate the positivity of our city.
"We would like to thank the members of the public who helped us on Saturday night, the Police and Fire Service for their amazing response, and to the wider faith community for their excellent support. We live in a wonderful city that has demonstrated tolerance and support for each other at times of need.”
The Bishop of Exeter, Rt Rev’d Robert Atwell has already stated that "Tolerance and mutual respect are hallmarks of a civilised society, and I would implore everybody, regardless of their religion, to condemn any action that seeks to intimidate or harm others. Everybody should be free to practise their religion, and I ask Christians to stand in solidarity alongside our Jewish neighbours and people of all faiths.”
Exeter Mosque have reiterated that “We have offered our full support to the synagogue. We were shocked by what has happened, but events such as these should not change our view that we can and should all respect religious beliefs in peace”.
Local Police Commander, Supt Matt Lawler confirmed “A man has been charged and the matter is subject of formal legal proceedings. We would therefore ask that everyone resists the temptation to speculate and allow the legal process to take its course,” adding “we consistently encourage the reporting of hate crime in all its forms as it allows us to both pursue offenders and support victims whenever and wherever it occurs. The excellent response in recent days has shown how we have come together with renewed effort to build even greater community ties amongst us all.”
ECC Leader Cllr Pete Edwards summarised, “The issuing of this joint statement highlights the importance of a positive approach to build upon our existing sense of community. We must celebrate our city and not allow a single isolated event to change that view. We unite to ensure that our city can continue to enjoy a future characterised by tolerance and mutual respect."