Moderator urges people to "stand together"

People need to "stand together" more than ever to tackle increasing division in society, the Moderator of the General Assembly has said.

In an historic address within the House of Lords this afternoon, Rt Rev Colin Sinclair said persecution needs to be challenged and action taken "to stop the spread of identity based hostility".

He made the remarks at a Council of Christians and Jews reception in the Cholmondeley Room to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on January 27.

Rt Rev Colin Sinclair
Rt Rev Colin Sinclair

The day remembers the six million Jews murdered during the Second World War and the millions of people killed under Nazi persecution, and in the genocides which followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camps in Nazi occupied Poland and the 25th anniversary of the Bosnian genocide.

Stand together

Mr Sinclair, an honorary president of the Council of Christians and Jews, said: "Today there is increasing division in communities across the UK and the world.

"Now more than ever we need to stand together with others in our communities in order to stop division and the spread of identity based hostility in our society.

"Everyone can take some action, by using our voices, presence, platform or influence.

"We need to challenge a hostile culture, speak out against persecution and stand together against rising division and hate."

Rallying call

Mr Sinclair said the theme of Holocaust Memorial Day this year is "Stand Together".

"It is a rallying call to resist all those who would create a way of thinking, to create caricatures, and to reinforce stereotypes that polarises people into ‘us' and ‘them'," he added.

"For, in so doing, they deliberately fracture societies, marginalise certain groups and create the climate whereby propaganda, fake news and urban myths are allowed room to grow.

"This can lead to exclusion, discrimination, and, at in extreme cases, can justify cruelty, violence and even genocide."

The reception was hosted by Lord Farmer, vice-chairman of the Council of Christians and Jews.

An introduction to Holocaust Memorial Day Speakers was given by Olivia Marks-Woldman, chief executive of Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, and a Jewish prayer was led by Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, senior Rabbi of Masorti Judais.