OLDHAM’S interfaith forum has held a vigil on the steps of the Civic Centre to remember the victims of recent hate-attacks in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the US, which killed and injured people of different nationalities and faiths, as well as people of no faith.

The speakers at the vigil were Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, Sean Fielding, leader of the council, Cllr Howard Sykes, the town Liberal Democrat opposition leader; Imam Zahoor Chisti from Oldham Mosques’ Council, Cllr Jamie Curley; Jean Hurlston, Reverend and area Dean, Mr Bharat Sisodia and Rev Phil Sumner.

Ms Abrahams, said: “I want to express my solidarity with the people of New Zealand, Sri Lanka and the US after the recent, dreadful terrorist attacks.

“By coming together today, we are not only condemning these terrorist attacks, and rejecting their hateful and divisive ideologies, but we are expressing and embracing our unity, our oneness, and our common humanity.

“I believe passionately that we have more in common than that which divides us.

“But I also recognise that too many people feel isolated, excluded and hopeless, and that's also not right.

“So I will commit to redouble my efforts to work tirelessly to try to ensure no one feels left out, or alone, or excluded and that hope not hate prevails.”

Cllr Fielding said: “Our answer to outrages like this should be to resolve to work even harder on extending the hand of friendship and kindness to people across, within, and beyond our communities.

“We know all too well that there are people that wish to divide us here, in Oldham, and many are outsiders.

“We are likely to be visited before the European Elections on May 23 by those whose sole aim is to divide us, and to sow discord and hatred for their own foolish ends. And we also know that there are people who will make outlandish claims about Oldham which are simply untrue, just to bring attention to their own narrow and hateful agenda.

“Our message to those people, as it is to the perpetrators of these atrocities in Sri Lanka and elsewhere, should be clear and unambiguous. You will never win; and you are on the wrong side of history.”

Cllr Sykes, said: “As a parent I would like to see an Oldham in which people of different faiths, and none, are valued and respected.”

Father Sumner, from Oldham Interfaith Forum, said: “Our relationships between people of different faiths are such that when some terrorist incident happens, we all feel it and want to express our friendship and solidarity with each other.”

Councillor Jamie Curley, said "We gathered together on Saturday as a community united to show those who would seek to divide us through violence and hate that their hatred is rejected by us. We seek to show our shared culture of understanding and engagement, reaching out across the whole community to create a space for peace, understanding and hope.

"Those who wish to do us harm, to break apart our communities will not succeed."