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Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has praised Britain’s faith communities for providing calm in the wake of the murder last year of the British Army soldier, Lee Rigby, on the streets of Woolwich in south-east London.
Drummer (Private) Rigby, of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was 25 when he was stabbed and run down by a car on 22 May. Last December, two Muslim extremists, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale were found guilty of the murder.
Addressing an interfaith reception at the Cabinet Office last week, Mr Clegg, who is an atheist, said: “I will never forget the important role you all played. It was a really powerful signal of calm, of tolerance and of reason, at exactly a time when all those qualities were under strain … You don’t appreciate what a service you provided to London in conveying calm, tolerance and mutual respect at that time. I’m convinced it played important role in making sure the situation did not become even worse.”
At the time of the attack, Muslim leaders stressed that Islam should be a religion of peace, while Archbishop Emeritus Kevin McDonald of Southwark called on people of all faiths to come together. “In particular it is vital that we build on the excellent relations we have between faith communities in this country, not least with the Muslim community,” the archbishop said.
A practising Catholic who was passing by the incident, Ingrid Loyau-Kennet, calmly confronted the killers, saying later: “I live my life as a Christian. I believe in thinking about others and loving thy neighbour.”