Religions for Peace Statement on Assyrian Church Stabbing

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The leadership team of Religions for Peace Australia (comprised of Buddhist, Christian, Quaker, Hindu, Muslim, Brahma Kumaris and Jewish faith leaders) have come together to consider the needs of our nation and the strengthening of social cohesion. Many issues have been exposed by this event. In faithful response, Religions for Peace Australia issues a call addressing faith community needs along with steps towards harmony and protection of the community.

Unity Against Violent Extremism: Religions for Peace Australia’s Statement on the Tragic Assyrian Church Stabbing

Religions for Peace Australia, Australia’s largest interfaith organisation with a presence in every state and territory, stands in solidarity with the victims and their families and friends in the wake of the heinous knife attack on the Assyrian bishop and priest and followers in Sydney. We extend our deepest condolences to those affected by this senseless act of violence.

As an organisation dedicated to promoting interfaith harmony and understanding, Religions for Peace Australia unequivocally condemns in the strongest terms any form of violent extremism.

This attack on innocent worshippers strikes at the very heart of our shared values of peace, tolerance, and coexistence has sent shockwaves through our community. Such acts of terror not only inflict physical harm but also sow seeds of fear, division, and mistrust in our society.

Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we come together as a society to denounce extremism in all its forms and reaffirm our commitment to social cohesion and harmony. This is a time for unity, not division; a time to pass beyond outrage and grief; we must continue to reach out and build the bonds of social cohesion and multifaith harmony.

We recognize the importance of coming together as a community during times of tragedy and adversity. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones during this difficult time.

Religions for Peace Australia remains committed to fostering dialogue, understanding, and cooperation among people of all faiths and backgrounds. Together, let us strive to build a world where diversity is celebrated, and where mutual respect and compassion guide our interactions.

In light of recent tragic events, we call for:

Coordination with Multifaith Organizations: Federal and State governments must work closely with multi faith organizations to develop inclusive policies and initiatives that foster dialogue, promote tolerance, and combat extremism. Multifaith organizations can play a leading role in promoting understanding and unity among diverse communities.

Prudent Use of Social Media: Increased regulation of e-safety and measures to prevent the misuse of social media platforms for spreading hate speech and extremist propaganda are imperative. The irresponsible use of social media has contributed to the spread of extremist ideologies and incitement to violence.

Commending our Paramedics and Law Enforcement: We commend the bravery and selflessness of paramedics and law enforcement personnel and members of the public who put their lives at risk to protect others during times of crisis. Their dedication and sacrifice are exemplary and deserve our utmost respect and gratitude.

Prevention of Radicalization: Proactive and concerted efforts are needed to prevent radicalization and violent extremism. This includes community-based programs, education initiatives, and social interventions aimed at addressing the underlying factors that contribute to radicalization.

Strong Role of Society: Society as a whole must come together to reject violence and extremism in all its forms. Communities must promote inclusion, tolerance, and respect for diversity, creating environments where all individuals feel valued and accepted.

Role of Leadership: Politicians and community leaders have a responsibility to lead by example and avoid statements that fuel division and hatred. They may seek to promote unity, tolerance, and respect for all members of society.

Exchange of Information and Cooperation: Enhanced cooperation and exchange of information between governments, law enforcement agencies, health agencies, and community organizations are essential for preventing and countering violent extremism. Collaboration at local, national, and international levels is vital to address this complex challenge.

Protection of Public Spaces: Existing measures and initiatives must be strengthened to better protect public spaces, including places of worship of all faiths, from terrorist attacks and other security threats. Governments should invest in enhanced security measures and provide support to communities at risk.

Enhanced Social Cohesion Policies and Programs: Governments should prioritize the development and implementation of policies and programs aimed at fostering social cohesion at the national level. These initiatives should promote inclusivity, address inequalities, and facilitate meaningful interaction among diverse communities. It is crucial to objectively measure our progress and identify areas of weakness in social cohesion to ensure continuous improvement. We must guard against complacency and remain vigilant in our efforts to build a more cohesive and harmonious society.

Responsible Use of Media, Particularly Social Media, and E-Safety: In an era where citizen journalism is becoming increasingly prevalent, governments must take proactive measures to ensure the responsible use of media, particularly social media platforms. In addressing terrorist events and extremist activities, enhanced e-safety regulations are necessary to curb the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and extremist propaganda online. Irresponsible sharing of violent content must be addressed through stringent regulations and public awareness campaigns to mitigate its harmful effects on society.

Religions for Peace Australia’s multi faith leadership team strives to hold complex truths and to overcome polarization. We are committed to the principles of peace, compassion, wisdom, and reconciliation. In these challenging moments, let us come together in action and prayer to end suffering and to build a better future for all.

Emeritus Professor Desmond Cahill
President, Religions for Peace Australia


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