At a weekend protest in Whitehall, the Archbishop of Canterbury urged Britain to “clean up our doorstep” and eliminate Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.
The Most Rev Justin Welby said: “There will be children thinking about going to school in the UK tomorrow who dread going because they will be spat at, shouted at, hated, because they’re Muslim because they’re Jewish. They’ll have to go without their uniforms because it identifies them too clearly. And that is in our streets.
“Years ago, I said to someone in a flooded street where the water had gone down, leaving all the filth and mess: ‘Where do we start?’.
“And she said: ‘Let’s clean up our own doorsteps first’.
“We are called to clean up our doorstep in this country. To clean away all anti-Semitism, all Islamophobia.”
He had previously referenced Martin Luther King and Desmond Tutu, saying, “I will destroy my enemies by making them my friends.”
Following the uproar caused by protests in London and other locations, the Together for Humanity rally was an attempt to create a more peaceful gathering. Its leaflets promised that there would be “no flags, no placards, just people.”
A carefully selected panel of speakers addressed the audience, which numbered several hundred at the start and progressively grew.
Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered MP Jo Cox, hosted the event and asked MPs from the three major parties to speak: Liberal Democrat Layla Moran, the first MP of Palestinian heritage, Labour MP Stella Creasy, and Tory MP Tobias Ellwood. Celebrities such as Jemima Khan and Rob Rinder were present.
Mr Ellwood said: “Our message must be different from other public rallies – more nuanced, more unified and more profound, a non-partisan collective call, that we must not be bystanders, we cannot ignore what we are witnessing, because in today’s digital world it has lifted the fog of war. Everything is seen in real time.
“You can be supportive of the state and people of Israel and the Jewish faith here in Israel, but be critical of Israel’s use of its military might.
“And you can be supportive of a two-state solution and the plight of the Palestinians, but be critical of Hamas that has lost any claim to represent ordinary Palestinians.”
Along with Mr. Welby, religious leaders Imam Monawar Hussain and Rabbi David Mason spoke at the ceremony.