Civic and faith leaders hold peace vigil in Oxford

Civic and faith leaders have held a peace vigil in Oxford, calling for understanding across the city's diverse communities.

Oxfordshire's council and local faith leaders invited residents to the vigil in Broad Street on Sunday evening.

In a joint statement, they said it was "an act of solidarity with those who suffer on all sides" in the Gaza war.

About 500 people attended the event and lit torches and candles in support of the initiative.

The leaders of Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Cherwell, South Oxfordshire, Vale of the White Horse and West Oxfordshire district councils joined faith leaders to reflect on the importance "of commitment to friendship and respect and understanding".

The Bishop of Oxford, The Right Reverend Dr Steven Croft, Imam Monawar Hussain, founder of the Oxford Foundation, and Louise Gordon, vice president of the Oxford Jewish Congregation, offered reflections and words of comfort and said they held "all the victims and their loved ones in our prayers".

In a statement, the faith and community leaders said they were aware of the need "to draw together the diverse communities of Oxfordshire at this time and renew bonds of friendship and a common commitment to peace".

"Together, we are horrified by the violence that we are seeing in Israel and Palestine, and the suffering of ordinary people who have lost loved ones and who fear for their own lives and for friends and family members," the statement read."We stand together here in Oxfordshire as religious and community leaders to say that we must continue the good work of community and relationship-building that has taken place over many years."Let peace and understanding continue to be the solution."

The group will meet regularly in the coming months to give a collective voice in promoting understanding, peace, and strong community relations across the area.

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