Faiths meet to increase understanding post Paris

Communities Rdtable 4Hounslow Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre, in partnership with Hounslow Friends of Faith hosted a Communities Roundtable at the mosque in Hounslow on Thursday 12th February. This brought together over 30 leaders of the faiths and denominations in the borough to share views and concerns informally in the wake of the recent events in France. Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh groups were represented. Councillor Sue Sampson, Lead member for Communities, two senior staff from the Communities Partnership Unit and the Met Police faith liaison officer also attended.

In a wide ranging discussion the value of working together across faiths was recognised.  Hounslow is a community of communities. Faiths should be respectful of each other and not judge.

Issues raised included the need to get the message across of the positive contribution faiths make to the community and that they are actively addressing concerns such as working with their young people. On-line radicalisation is a reality whether Islamist or far right.  Places of worship have to be alert, tackle it with their young people and share knowledge and best practice of how to do this.

Young people need to be engaged through action, not just dialogue.  ‘Faith bodies and the local authority have a crucial role to tackle the issue of engaging with young people’ said HFOF Chair Charanjit Ajit Singh.  ‘We need to give them the tools to develop into law abiding citizens as equals.  We must be careful of the language we use to each other, but also challenge it if necessary’.

‘Freedom of speech and expression is an important and highly earned value of democratic societies and must be exercised with care and respect for others. Fanaticism, in any form including through pen or pistol, has no place in our communities’ said Zubair Awan, Joint Secretary of Hounslow Jamia Masjid.

Participants plan to keep in touch and support each other in working on these issues.