There was an important event last night at the Hyderi Islamic Centre on Estreham Road.
It was put on to discuss responses to Wednesday's killing in Woolwich, and was open to the local community. The Centre deserve great credit in showing leadership and initiative by organising it. Not only did this send an important and unequivocal signal of condemnation for what happened in Woolwich, but it went much further. It moved beyond the bland platitudes and simplistic commentary that we have seen in a lot of public debate in the last two days.
What I will take away with me is a feeling from both the platform and the several hundred people who were in attendance, that "business as usual" was not an option, but that there needed to be a clear commitment to non-violence and building peace, as well as understanding the reasons behind what happened. There was also a feeling that more needs to be done in breaking down the barriers between communities (at both the local and national level) and challenging stereotypes. The diversity of opinions expressed was also refreshing, as well as the open and frank discussion. This was a strength, rather than a weakness, demonstrating well that we need a grown up and challenging public conversation in the coming days, weeks, months and years, rather than a weak and simplistic display of monochrome unity which will do nothing to help move things forward.
It would be difficult to do justice here to the many important points that were made, but you can see the Hyderi Centre twitter feed to get a flavour of the things that were said and discussed.