July 18, 2017

Adventist Leader in Southern England Meets with Local Imam

Sam O. Davies, British Union Conference News

On Tuesday, July 4, South England Conference (SEC) church region president Emmanuel Osei visited Imam Toufik Kacimi, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Finsbury Park Muslim Welfare House, in London, to deliver words of sympathy and condolences in the aftermath of the Finsbury Park terror attack.

“On behalf of the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the South England Conference, I want to express our shock and dismay at the appalling and senseless attack on innocent worshippers that took place on June 19 at your Muslim Welfare House in Finsbury Park,” said Osei to Kacimi. “We want you to know that as members of faith, we do sympathize with the trauma caused by this evil act, and we totally condemn it.”

South England Conference President Emmanuel Osei, right, during his meeting with Finbury Park Imam and Welfare House CEO Toufik Kacimi, on July 4. [Photo: British Union Conference News]

The June 19 attack, which was labeled a hate crime, resulted in the death of one Muslim worshipper, and several wounded as a van driver struck pedestrians coming out of the mosque. Two persons are still in a critical condition, according to Kacimi.

Osei told Kacimi that regional Seventh-day Adventist leaders and members are praying for the local Muslim community.

“We would like you to know that our sincere prayers and thoughts are with you all and the family of the deceased and those who were injured,” said Osei. “Please be assured of our prayers as you continue to worship.”

In response to the SEC president’s visit, Kacimi expressed appreciation for the solidarity shown by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as he praised the work of the church in the area. “We have had the privilege of sharing in training offered at New Life Adventist church for the benefit of the community,” said Kacimi. He also commended the work of Malika Bediako, SEC Community Services director, for her work with “faiths working together,” an initiative to assist people living in the Haringey area in north London.

Kacimi shared the challenge that they face with new young converts who tend to be attracted toward radicalism. “We do a lot of work tackling youth employment, youth engagement, domestic violence, gun culture, and substance misuse,” he said. The center attracts people from diverse backgrounds. “We have Somalis, Albanians, Bengalis, Indians, Algerians—you name it.”

Kacimi explained that they are open to working together with other faith groups to find lasting solutions to this situation. “The purpose of the Muslim Welfare House is to support young people through various training opportunities,” he said.

Osei, in turn, thanked Kacimi for his kind reception and the imam’s openness to work with others in tackling the challenge of displaced youth in the community. “You can count on the support of the [regional Adventist Church] for the fight against hate crime,” he said.