Faith leaders pay tribute to Sheik Dr Zaki Badawi

  Church leaders and faith groups in Britain and Ireland have been paying tribute to Sheikh Dr Zaki Badawi who died today. Dr Badawi, 83, was a leading reformist figure who called for Muslims to engage fully with British life. He was formerly imam of Regent's Park Mosque and forged close ties with Jewish and Christian leaders. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor said: "I offer my sincere condolences and assurances of prayers to the family, friends and colleagues of Zaki Badawi. "I was glad to count him among my friends. We worked and co-operated together on many matters in recent years and there will be many who will mourn his death as I do. May he rest in peace." The Cardinal welcomed Dr Badawi and five senior British Muslims to Archbishop's House on 3 November 2004. At the conclusion of the meeting they agreed to stand together against violence in the name of religion and to defend the religious freedoms of each other's faith anywhere in the world that these are being transgressed. In a statement, Churches Together in England and Wales said: "Dr Badawi was a leading figure in inter faith relations both in Britain and internationally. He made a great contribution to understanding among faith communities and was highly regarded as a friend and colleague by many in the Christian Churches. "We express our love and sympathy to his family and those close to him. And give thanks for his example." The Interfaith Alliance UK offered sincere condolences to the family ofSheikh Zaki Badawi. In a statement it said: "Sheikh Zaki Badawi was deeply respected from a broad spectrum of faith communities as a religious leader of wisdom, and for speaking out on controversial issues. He will be fondly remembered for many things, both as a pious person and committed professional with an unusual capacity to hear the other side. In Britain his great contribution to genuine dialogue with other faiths, striving for structured training for men and women in Islamic sciences at the Muslim College in London, and his willingness to deal with difficult topics within Muslim communities will be an everlasting legacy. Sheikh Zaki Badawi can be described as someone who listened carefully and acted with cautious quietness, sometimes in a quite subversive way, both within and beyond Muslim communities. He will be greatly missed not only by family and friends but by his students, both present and past, the wider Muslim communities and in the ongoing necessary bridge-building of Britain's faith communities. The message was signed by: Rabbi Rebecca Birk, Martin Pendergast and amsila Tauqir

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