St. Augustine’s Catholic church in Solihull was delighted to welcome Ms Rehanah Sadiq to its lectern. Ms Sadiq, a Muslim, addressed the congregation with a moving speech on Solidarity and Peace following the reprehensible attacks in Sri Lanka recently.

Rehanah Sadiq said:

“As a Muslim, I greet you with the peace greetings of Muslims all over the world, assalamu’alaykum, peace be to you. 

“In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful, and for the love of God, I thank you for having me and my fellow Muslim community brothers and sisters here this morning. 

“I am honoured to have been invited here to share a few words...

“As a Muslim here in Solihull, and on behalf of the members of the Muslim community that sent their apologies for not being able to come today, we stand in solidarity and peace with our Christian brothers and sisters as we grieve with you for the loss of our brothers and sisters in the recent brutal attacks in Sri Lanka.

“We grieve for their families and loved ones, of all faith backgrounds or of none, and for all the victims of oppression and violence in the world. 

“We hold out our arms to embrace you, we offer our hearts to hold you in our love, our care, and our prayers. 

“You are all our brothers and sisters in humanity. We are all - one.

“And it is so shocking, and incomprehensible, that such atrocities are done to innocent people, not only while they rest, or go about their daily business peacefully, but even as they worship in their holy places – such as we witnessed on Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, and the not-so-very long ago New Zealand killings during Muslim Friday prayers. 

“May our loved ones rest in peace. 

“And may everyone who has been affected by these terrible acts of hate, find comfort, goodness and peace through their faith, love and hope in the rest of humanity. 

“I pray that we may always show our support for one another, stand by one another, and offer our friendship to one another, not only in difficult times, but in good times too.

“Thank you and God bless.”

Fr Dominic Kavanagh said:

“I found it a very moving experience to have members of the local Muslim community come to offer their support and sympathy to our community as an act of solidarity with those killed and injured in the bombings in Sri Lanka.

“I felt it was a brave and sensitive act on their part. After Rehanah spoke the congregation expressed their appreciation of her kind words by breaking into applause. Rehanah also mentioned that members of the congregation were very emotional when they met after the Mass.

“Our Muslim friends responded warmly to the invitation to join us for refreshments in the parish hall.

“I was also very moved by two beautiful bouquets of flowers which the younger members of the community presented to us. In response I said that I would place them next to Our Blessed Lady, “Miriam” whom both Muslims and Christians hold in high esteem, asking that she would be a focus for greater unity and understanding between our two communities.

“Our representative on the Solihull Faith Forum, Mr. Henryk Cettler, was able to meet with the people after Mass, as was our Deacon Kevin O’Connor.

“I feel that it was a small but very significant gesture, in terms of conveying our sympathy for those killed and injured in the bombings.

“I hope that it will give us encouragement to make further contacts in the weeks and months ahead.”