By Lord Tariq Ahmad, Communities Minister.
In the past two weeks we have seen the best and the worst of humanity.
Paris was the scene of two separate atrocities committed by hate-filled men. They were committed by young men who had turned their back on everything we hold dear, men who had funnelled their perceived injustices into violence and who had used the veil of religion to mask their warped ideology.
But we’ve also seen how even in the darkest of times the goodness of humanity breaks through. In the panic-stricken kosher supermarket it was a Malian Muslim, Lassana Bathily, who reached out to help those around him, bundling people to safety and saving strangers lives.
In the cold light of day, when asked what made him act he said: “We’re all brothers. It’s not a question of Jews, Christians or Muslims….We’re all in the same boat.” I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Over the past four years this Government has sought to bring people from every walk of life together, to allow neighbours to become friends and to ensure that it’s not our differences that matter, but our shared values.
And when there is an attack like this finding the right response is a challenge for everyone. The hijacking of Islam to justify such heinous crimes is sickening and as I, and other Muslims around the world have made clear, such actions are an affront to the faith.
Jews should take comfort in the fact that British Muslim communities across the country have spoken out to say “not in our name”.
Since the terror attacks your government has acted to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to reassure the safety of British Jews.
Police forces across the country are continuing to take measures to protect the Jewish community from terrorism and hate crime and they remain vigilant of any threats. Forces have also taken the steps to boost security measures and patrols around Jewish communities and shops to ensure that help is always at hand.
I have been in contact with the Chief Rabbi and community leaders across the country personally in the past few days to ensure that this government’s commitment is apparent and the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State Eric Pickles will speak at the Board of Deputies plenary meeting to make one thing clear.
Jewish people make Britain great. Your contribution to our national life is immense and our country would be a much diminished place without you.
As our recent Government Action on Antisemitism report made clear, the safety of the Jewish community in our nation is of the utmost importance to your Government and on the eve of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau we will do everything in our power to continue to fight the scourge of antisemitism.