A poignant memorial service to remember those who lost their lives in Srebrenica was held at Bromsgrove’s St John’s Church on Sunday (September 4).
Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities in Bromsgrove came together to unite against hatred and intolerance while readings were made from The Bible and Qur’an. Cllr Helen Jones, leader of Bromsgrove District Council, led an act of remembrance in lighting candles for the 8,000 Muslim men and boys murdered in Bosnia 21 years ago, with Dr Yvonne Stollard of Birmingham Progressive Synagogue and Graham Usher, the Bishop of Dudley also paying their respects.
The genocide in Srebrenica is a stark reminder of the damage hatred and intolerance can do to communities. With a sharp rise in the number of hate crimes recorded after the EU referendum earlier this year, members of different faiths felt it was important to come together and demonstrate their commitment to making everyone feel welcome and safe in this community.
Rev Ray Khan, Team Vicar in Bromsgrove, said at the service:
“We all share a common humanity and are rich because we are different. It is important that we stand together, in our differences and say no to all forms of hatred and intolerance. This service drew together people of all faiths and none and those who attended were deeply moved by it.”
The Bishop of Dudley, Graham Usher, added:
“This was an important occasion, as we were remembering the events of 21 years ago with sorrow, but also awakening minds to the threat of racism in our society. Readings from the Qur’an were made by Syrian refugees in a church in Bromsgrove which sends an important message that we welcome everyone and celebrate what we have in common; our faith and our belief in a society that must provide safety from persecution.”
Organiser Helal Shahid added:
“I am proud to have been involved with organising this event in Bromsgrove and ensuring that more people learn about the genocide in Srebrenica, so that we can tackle hatred and prejudice by bringing people together here.”
This event was one of hundreds of Srebrenica Commemorations across the nation organised by Remembering Srebrenica’s Regional Boards and Community Champions. They are all working to bring communities together through community action such as multi-faith memorial services, concerts, film screenings, football tournaments and Peace Walks.
These demonstrate the importance of community links within the UK, as well as highlighting that we truly do have more in common than dividing us.
Remembering Srebrenica Chairman Dr Waqar Azmi OBE explained:
“Our dedicated Community Champions are leading a grassroots movement to challenge the stereotyping and dehumanising language that has become prevalent in our country, and to bring communities together through acts of commemoration”.