The Civil Service Muslim Network
The event was carefully promoted and 200 attendees registered within a fortnight. 13 departments and ALBs were represented, including MPs, Permanent Secretaries and external organisations. On the night 150+ attendees sent postcard messages, provided by CSMN t the New Zealand Embassy, conveying private messages to those impacted.
There was an important responsibility in organising an event, which needed to be thoughtfully curated to bring together a respectful commemoration whilst allowing time for contemplation. CSMN sought Clare Moriarty’s sponsorship for the event and were keen to promote the interfaith aspect by involving St James’s Church Piccadilly who are renowned for their interfaith and outreach work. To highlight the interfaith element the event was on this occasion not held in a mosque. Support was sought to ensure the door was open to all with support from Cabinet Office D&I colleagues and wider Cross Government networks. Specific networks such as JNET were also offered an opportunity to suggest wider religious speakers. This enabled the line-up to be as eclectic as possible. Alongside this former New Zealand Prime Minister, Rt Hon Helen Clark, came as a guest of honour. She was touched by the reaction of the UK Civil Service and shared the outcome with the current NZ Prime Minister. An important part of the evening was a moving rendition of Hallelujah sung by Faisal Salah and Rev Lucy Winkett which intertwined the three Abrahamic faiths.
The event has inspired further legacy with a cross government event, which has since been held, and will going forward be held bi-annually in the civil service to recognise interfaith solidarity, particularly given the rise of religious hate crime. Following the event colleagues have got together to discuss interfaith matters such as Muslim and Jewish Women network exploring shared areas of interest and also wider colleagues cross government colleagues have been given the confidence to hold similar events, now and for interfaith in November.
Organising lead Nabeela Rasul with the external collaboration of Saba Zaman, went over and above to deliver a resoundingly poignant and symbolic event and highlighted how well internal and external collaboration can work to discuss such a tragic event. To sum it up one of the speakers said; ‘Despite the horrifying pain and tragedy which brought us all together, the night was one of true hope and love. I wish the wider world got to see the beauty of that evening, it would be a far far more beautiful way to live.