Newham churches defiant in wake of French priest attack

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 August 2016

St John's Church, of Broadway, Stratford.

St John's Church, of Broadway, Stratford.


Church leaders are remaining defiant in the wake of last week’s attack on a French priest.

Officers have visited churches across Newham to offer advice as UK police chiefs urge places of worship to step up security.

But Father Francis Conway, a priest at St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church, in The Grove, Stratford, insists nothing has changed.

“The police came on the day after and asked how we were and I told them we are not afraid,” he said.

“It has had no impact on us –we are just getting on as normal.

“Nothing has changed.”

Two men stormed a church in Normandy on Tuesday, July 26, before slitting the throat of the 85-year-old parish priest in an attack later claimed by Isis.

But Matthew Porter, 51, service officer at Transform Newham – a Christian movement of churches working together across the borough – insists it was a very rare incident.

“There are far greater dangers in Newham,” he said. “We’re advising people to watch out, but not to do anything different.

“A good practice in churches is that you don’t see people one-to-one, or if you do, keep a door open.”

National operational police lead for protect and prepare Dep Asst Commissioner Neil Basu said: “Following recent events in France, we are reiterating our protective security advice to Christian places of worship and have circulated specific advice.

“We are also taking this opportunity to remind them to review their security arrangements as a precaution.”

To report any suspicious activity call the anti-terrorist hotline on 0800 789321 or dial 999 in an emergency.

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