Paris attacks – Bishop of Birmingham stresses need for community integration

On 17th November 2015 the Leader of the House of Lords repeated a statement by the Prime Minister on the Paris terrorist attacks of 13th November, and the G20 summit. The Bishop of Birmingham, Rt Revd David Urquhart, responded to the statement from the Bishops’ Benches.

Birmingham 171115The Lord Bishop of Birmingham: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for her repeating of the Statement and, from these Benches, join your Lordships in offering our sympathy for the tragic loss of life and the injuries that occurred in Paris—and, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Wallace, said, in other parts of the region, in recent weeks.

On the area of ideology, the third of area in the Statement, can the Minister go a bit further? While we make every effort, as we must, to deal with this issue by military power and by counter-extremism measures, the area of ideas is a matter which I ask the Minister to consider very seriously in terms of quite small but important resources, as we try to develop the right relationships in the community that the Prime Minister so wants—not just asking Muslims to argue for a good Islam, but also to join people of faith, or no faith, of all parts in developing right thinking, friendship and deep relationships, which will allow us to move on from this ghastly use of violence into a more integrated society. Will she also encourage us to make a successful integration of the new wave of Syrian refugees fleeing from death in their own country?

Baroness Stowell of Beeston: The right reverend Prelate makes an important set of points about the importance of cohesion and for us to all unite around a clear set of values that are so important to our own way of life. In the counter-extremism strategies that I have already referred to, a big part is about supporting different communities and cohesion among communities. The Prime Minister has been clear about the importance of British values. This is something that we are keen as a Government to promote. As a country, we should not shy away, as we may have in the past, from saying that our values as British people are the ones that—whoever we are, whatever our faith—must unite us and are so important to the way in which we continue to prosper.