UK Cathedral Celebrates Ramadan on Anniversary of ISIS London Bridge Attack
London's Southwark Cathedral hosted its second annual "Grand Iftar Service" on Sunday evening, marking the anniversary of the London Bridge terror attack last year. In addition to the 11 a.m. Eucharist service, the church also held a 3 p.m. Service of Commemoration for the attack, and an 8 p.m. service to celebrate the Muslim service.
The Iftar service stood out, however, as it marked the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. It has not yet been reported whether or not the prayers associated with Ramadan were performed inside the cathedral, which would be a serious violation of Christian holy space. Hosting a Ramadan event at a church, however, is bad enough.
"We stand united as communities, as Londoners, as people that want to celebrate our diversity," Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said at the Iftar service.
In a statement, the cathedral announced it would "host its second Grand Iftar which, this year, will also mark the anniversary of the London Bridge attacks and will bring all communities together to celebrate Ramadan, to promote resilience and to share the common values of hope, peace and unity and celebrate the diversity of those who live and work in the Bankside area [of London]."
On June 3, 2017, three terrorists inspired by and claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge. When the van crashed, the terrorists ran to the nearby Borough Market area and began stabbing people in and around restaurants and bars. These terrorists killed eight people and injured 48 others, including four unarmed police officers.
The Diocese of Southwark, the church organization in control of the cathedral, announced that after the commemoration service, the bishop, Rt. Revd. Christopher Chessun, would bless an olive tree, "The Tree of Healing," as a permanent memorial to those who died. The tree was planted "using compost made from flowers left on London Bridge after the attack."
It is very fitting for Southwark Cathedral, the church closest to London Bridge and in between London Bridge and Borough Market, to commemorate the attacks. The Iftar seemed less fitting, however.