Between Between 10-13 September, the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair will take place at the ExCel centre, East London. This is Europe’s largest Arms Fair and people representing a huge range of faith communities will come together to declare their objection to the weapons trade.
Most world faiths have in common a deep sense of the value of peace in the world, believing that peace is not achieved by the use of weapons or threats of violence, but by dialogue, respect for universal human dignity and human rights, and just social structures.
The No Fath in War network says "The arms trade represents business interests being given greater status than the lives of human beings. Our government has continued to support the sale of weapons for profit despite the certain knowledge that these weapons will be used for example by the Saudi Arabian government to kill Yemeni civilians. This structure of violence is challenged by people of faith who do not accept that violent means truly resolve conflicts."
Organising for the No Faith in War day began over a year ago and will be bigger than in previous years. There will be testimony from people whose communities have been destroyed by conflict fuelled by arms deals. The organisers say: "Expect processions, rituals and acts of witness drawn from a variety of traditions. There will be life and energy as participants work together to make the world a better place."
Jake, 19, said: “When I went to the No Faith in War protest two years ago I didn't know who would be there and what was going to go down. The atmosphere was one of peace and unity that war violates our religious identities. It was great to meet a group of like-minded people and speak out against injustice together.”
This year, the UK government has invited 67 countries including Algeria, Angola, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey, the UAE, and Uzbekistan. Saudi Arabia has been invited despite a recent suspension of arms sales to the country, ordered by the Court of Appeal.
Public polling taken at the time of DSEI 2017 found that 76 per cent of the UK opposes arms exports to human rights abusing regimes. It also found that 63 per cent oppose government promotion of arms to countries that are not democracies. More polling will be done ahead of DSEI 2019.
Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.