In the aftermath of the terrorist attack in Paris by Muslim Jihadists, many of the ever brewing multicultural communities in the UK came into distress: the Jewish population seeing Anti-Semite attacks rising in numbers while the Anti-Muslim sentiment has led to several pointed attacks.
Glowing in the midst of the animosity that has lasted for millennia, the Stamford Hill neighborhood of Hackney in North London is showing the world that coexisting is not only possible, it’s beneficial.
Stamford Hill holds Europe’s largest concentration of Haredi Jews and a substantial Muslim minority who share the same streets and are now united in times of difficulty.
Munaf Zeena, chairman of the North London Muslim Community Centre who is working together with Rabbi Herschel Gluck, a veteran international conflict mediator and founder of the Muslim-Jewish Forum,?stated:
“We have a big Jewish community here, and they have been victims in Paris. I think we have a responsibility to make sure that those who feel uncomfortable or unsafe feel supported. It is our role to give them that moral support and to stand by them in every way we can.”
“There is a palpable feeling of warmth when one sees members of the other community in the street or going about our business… It is not just that we tolerate each other. We actually engage constructively as very good neighbors with each other.”
A tireless peace activist, Gluck founded the first Muslim-Jewish interfaith organization of its kind in the world inspired by his work in the Middle East, Kashmir, Bosnia, Kosovo and Sudan. The Forum opens a line of communication between members of both faiths, strives to find common ground and build stronger community ties.
Stamford Hill and its diverse population date back to the late 1950s when Muslims from South Asia and Indian-born Jews arrived to the region.
Eusoof Amerat, a community advocate:
“When we came we had nothing, and a lot of the estate agents and solicitors were Jews. Many of them were very helpful at a grassroots level. We never forget someone who helps us and the relationship grew and blossomed.”
To help mitigate the overall sense of fear and unease, both communities recently agreed to work together as part of a police-trained voluntary community patrol that responds and addresses crime, social misconduct and several other incidents called the Shomrim.
The group has been instrumental in assisting both the Jewish and the Muslim population, helping police identify and arrest several hate crime perpetrators, and investigate vandalism.
To date, none of the incidents has been linked to members of the Stamford Hill population. They are a group of UK citizens who are working together, in faithful cooperation, hoping to lead other European communities as a shining example of a peaceful and flourishing coexistence in this pocket of hope.