People in Cardiff are being invited to take part in a show of unity and solidarity following the arrest of a man from the city in connection with the Finsbury Park mosque attack.
Cardiff Council is urging people to join the city’s Muslim community at a special Ramadam Iftar – the breaking of the daily Ramadan fast – on Cardiff City Hall lawns on Friday evening from 9pm. It hopes to send out the clear message that Cardiff is a welcoming city that celebrates its diverse communities.
Leader of Cardiff Council and Head of Christian Aid Wales, Huw Thomas, said, “I, like everyone I know, was deeply saddened and shocked to hear about the incident outside a mosque in London in the early hours of Monday morning and to see news reports that a man from Cardiff has been arrested in connection with this offence.
“As a Council, we will redouble our efforts, working with other agencies and partners, to reassure all of Cardiff’s communities that they are welcome, secure and safe here.
“Cardiff has always been known as a welcoming city, a city that celebrates diversity, a city that pulls together in difficult times. It’s important we pull together now and don’t let hate and those who promote hate to drive a wedge between our communities.
“This Friday, on City Hall lawns, from 9pm, the Muslim community in Cardiff is holding a special Ramadan Iftar – an event to which everyone is invited to celebrate the breaking of the daily Ramadan fast.
“This event was set up to help feed the homeless and to welcome refugees to our city. It is also open to anyone who wants to come along and take this opportunity to celebrate everything that binds our city and our communities together. It is a chance to show that we will not be set against each other. Cardiff has never been like that and never will be.
“I will be there on Friday and I hope those of you who can will join us in front of City Hall to celebrate the values we all share; love of family, friendship, being good neighbours, caring for others and understanding. We have much more in common than those who would seek to drive us apart will ever realise.”
The Council stressed that current information regarding the man suspected of carrying out the Finsbury Park attack suggested that he acted alone. There was not any significant activity from far right or Islamophobic groups in Cardiff.
A spokesperson added that the investigation was being supported by South Wales Police and the Wales Extremism and Counter Terrorism Unit. Police officers were carrying out extra patrols in order to reassure communities, especially those observing Ramadan. Over the coming days, the local authority and Police would also be meeting with communities to listen to their concerns and offer reassurance and support.
South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said, “It is deeply concerning to discover the link between the terrible events at Finsbury Park and South Wales, particularly given the strong bond that exists between our communities here. I am confident that the strong foundations which are already in place will not be shaken by this tragic incident.”
In a statement issued on Monday, the Bishop of Monmouth, Richard Pain, whose diocese covers part of Cardiff, expressed his concern. He said, “I am very saddened to hear of this terrorist attack. Cardiff and Newport Areas are well known for enjoying good relationships amongst the different cultures and faiths and this attack does not represent the faith communities who work well together for the well being of all in South East Wales. Only last night (Sunday), representatives of the Muslim communities attended a service at St Woolos Cathedral. Our thoughts and prayers go to those affected by the attack and our resolve is to work for peace and mutual respect.”
The Revd Mark Lawson-Jones, who served the Pentwyn area of Cardiff for more than a decade before leaving this month, said the community was a tolerant and respectful one: “This incident is shocking in many respects for the community in Pentwyn and Cardiff as a city.
“Firstly, Pentwyn is close-knit and diverse. This senseless act of terrorism is far removed from the community feeling, which is one of tolerance and respect for all faiths or none. Cardiff has welcomed all people for centuries, through overseas trade from the Middle Ages, to more recent years when it has grown to be one of the most vibrant cities in Europe; an example of how all faiths and cultures can live together.
“Secondly, this act of cold and calculated hatred reminds us that the spectre of things that should be consigned to history, still exist in the minds of evil people, encouraged by those who stir up tension for their own ends.
“Pentwyn will recover from this event, through the efforts of the many to bring people together, enjoy the rich diversity and share responsibility for the future. Then the few, who would damage, destroy and denigrate, will be consigned to the past, where such evil should live.”
Anyone with information about this incident or anything that causes them concern or suspicion should call the police confidentially on 0800 789 321