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St Marks Church in Gillingham holds event to stop hate during National Hate Crime Awareness Week

A community event in Medway brought people together from all faiths to discuss the issue of hate crime during National Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The series of talks was hosted at Saint Mark's Church on Canterbury Street, Gillingham, and was organised by Bobby Mayhay, community liaison officer for Kent Police.

Jon Weiner from the Chatham Memorial Synagogue attended
Jon Weiner from the Chatham Memorial Synagogue attended

Jon Weiner, chairman of Chatham Memorial Synagogue, expressed his frustration with some people's intolerance towards others.

He said: "Why do people hate one another just because they're different? I just don't understand it.

"Chatham Memorial Synagogue always likes to welcome people from all religions and all backgrounds. I've always felt welcome in any place of worship I've been to, whether it's the cathedral, whether it's the mosque."

Saju Muthalay, vicar of St Mark's Church, lead a joint interfaith prayer session with other religious leaders attending the evening.

It was an opportunity for people of all faiths to sit and listen to different kinds of prayers, and to encourage acceptance of the differences between one another.

Imam Safeer Khan played a large part in organising the event
Imam Safeer Khan played a large part in organising the event

Earlier this year, the NSPCC revealed more than 300 race hate offences have been committed against children in Kent over the last year.

Police recorded 302 offences in 2017/18, accounting for almost six a week in the county during the period.

Many of the young people affected by racial abuse who contacted the charity said they had been told to “go back to their own country.”

Stop Hate UK has in the past attributed the rise in hate crime to the 2016 EU referendum, which Mr Weiner agrees with.

He said: "I just feel annoyed that this wretched Brexit thing has brought out hatred."

Saju Muthalay, vicar of St Mark's Church, lead a joint interfaith prayer session
Saju Muthalay, vicar of St Mark's Church, lead a joint interfaith prayer session

Safeer Khan, Imam of Nasir Mosque on Richmond Road, Gillingham, also attended the event.

He said: "Whether somebody voted remain or somebody voted leave, at the end of the day, that's something that's personal, that's the personal choice of individuals.

"It shouldn't bring about hate towards any section of society.

"These things shouldn't really create those divisions. And when they do, that's when it's really important to have these kind of events to bring people together."

Meanwhile,Victim Support Kent has urged people to reach out for help if they have been a victim of hate crime, even if they do not want to contact the police.

The organisation is KentOnline's charity of the year, which is dedicated to supporting victims of crime and traumatic incidents.

National Hate Crime Awareness Week runs from last Saturday, to this Saturday, October 19.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway


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