FAITH leaders in Bolton have called for “peace, harmony and tolerance” between communities — in the wake of the current Middle East crisis.
The statement comes from the Right Revd Chris Edmondson, Bishop of Bolton; Moulana Faruk Ali, chairman of Bolton Interfaith Council; Rev Philip Brooks, chairman of Bolton Christian Community Cohesion; Sabir Khan, chairman of Bolton Council of Mosques; and Bipin Patel, chairman of Bolton Hindu Forum.
Earlier this week, horrific video footage was released that appears to show American journalist James Foley being beheaded by an Islamic State (IS) extremist.
The jihadist group released the video of the 40-year-old, missing in Syria since 2012, saying his killing was revenge for US air strikes on its fighters in Iraq.
Bolton’s faith leaders wrote: “We view with great sadness and heavy hearts the effects of the current violent confrontations in the Middle East, and especially the way in which this has resulted in innocent people, including many children, losing their lives.
“Such situations give rise to strong differences of view about what is just and right, and they bring with them anxiety, pain and anger.
“At these times, our bonds of friendship and trust — long in the making — can be tested. Let them not be broken.
“We in Bolton are proud of the good interfaith relations forged over many years.”
Prime Minister David Cameron is holding emergency meetings in Downing Street following the "shocking and depraved" murder of Mr Foley.
He is being briefed by senior intelligence officials and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond as investigations are carried out following the release of the footage.
Faith leaders in Bolton added: “We may have different faiths and various family roots but friendship and a commitment to harmony and understanding unites us as one community in our town.
“We wish to see, and are praying that the Middle East may be at peace with itself and without conflict, enabling the various communities to be able to live side by side, whatever their faiths or origins.”