The BoD’s Vivian Wineman, right, with MCB’s Dr Shuja Shafi

The BoD’s Vivian Wineman, right, with MCB’s Dr Shuja Shafi

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s outgoing interfaith advisor has praised the Board of Deputies and the Muslim Council of Britain over their joint statement following the Gaza conflict.

The statement condemned anti-Semitism and Islamophobia but some rounded on the Board for engaging in such an initiative with an organisation from which it previously severed relations over its boycott of Holocaust Memorial Day.

Others focused their criticism on the inclusion of a line describing the targeting of civilians as “completely unacceptable and against our religious traditions”. While many would have seen this as thinly-veiled condemnation of Hamas, the MCB insisted it took the line to refer to both sides in the conflict.

But Rev Toby Howarth, who is leaving the role of secretary on inter-religious affairs to become the bishop of Bradford, hailed those behind the move for their “great courage and leadership”. He said the statement had been a “real sign of hope”.

During a Board reception honouring his contribution, Rev Howarth was presented with a menorah which he vowed to take to Bradford. His successor Rev Mark Poulson received a book on the history of the community’s representative body.

He said such interfaith gatherings were “the act of defiance in the light of the people of violence and those who want to divide us”.

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