Faith leaders joined forces today to condemn the recent terrorist attacks in France and show a “united Britain of religions”.

Senior Muslim, Jewish and Christian figures held an “interfaith unity gathering” in London in response to last week’s fatal assaults by Islamic extremists in Paris, which claimed 17 lives.

Around 20 prominent religious figures met at the Islamic Cultural Centre at Regents Park Mosque in central London, which organisers described as “an act of solidarity”.

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Speaking at the event, Dr Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “We come together today in difficult times and difficult circumstances. Last week we all watched in horror as people were killed mercilessly.

“We come together in solidarity. There has been a lot of heat generated in the last week about freedom of speech, about security and about the place of British Muslims in society.”

“We’re at risk of doing the very thing the terrorists want us to do – divide our society .

“Today I understand the English version of a Prophet Mohammed is being published.

“Yes Muslims are no doubt hurt and offended by those depictions. But nothing offends us more than the insult, hurt and dishonour this attack has brought on our community and faith.”

After the event, Senior Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner said: “Today was to send a message about Britain – a united Britain of religions. We will not have division here, we will continue to work together and any attempt to divide us will not work.” 

Addressing the decision of French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which was targeted by terrorists, to publish a cartoon of Mohammed, she added: “I think you have a right to do it. I personally don’t use all of my rights because I know there are implications. “There is hurt involved but there are 500 worlds between hurt and violence.” A similar event with religious leaders was held today at the British Muslim Heritage Centre in Whalley Range, Manchester.

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