Communities Minister Lord Bourne met religious leaders at eight places of worship across London. The series of visits highlighted the capital’s welcoming attitude to faith communities and celebrate the rich contribution they make to our neighbourhoods.
The visits included the Acton Town Mosque, the Shree Ram Mandir in Southall and the Zoroastrian Centre in Harrow, the only Zoroastrian place of worship in Europe.
At the Acton Masjid Lord Bourne met by the Secretary General, the Committee Chair and a trustee, Mr Syed Hussain, the Imam Qari Muhammad and Mr Karim Sacoor, at the Shree Ram Mandir in Southall, the Minister listened to Sanjay Jagatia – Secretary General of Hindu Council UK Mr Umesh C Sharma JP – Chairman of Hindu Council UK, Mr Arun Thakur – Trustee of Shree Ram Mandir, Mr Davinder Anand – Director of Business Affairs for Hindu Council UK, Mr Anil Bhanot – Chairman of the Ethnic Minority Foundation, Miss Muna Chauhan – Representative of Women Empowerment within The Hindu Community and Bharat Sarolia – Co-Author of the forthcoming Hindu Report commissioned by the Hindu Council UK. In addition, the Minister met Directors of the Hindu Council UK, Community Leaders from various Temples and other Interfaith Leaders.
Speaking following his day of visits, Communities Minister Lord Bourne said: “In London, we are greatly enriched by the diversity of faiths that call our city home. Within an hour you can visit places of worship representing our largest religions, through to our smaller faiths, all of whom play an integral part in communities.
“Throughout the year there are terrific events that bring all communities together like November’s Inter Faith Week, the Hindu inspired national Sewa Day, and the Muslim led Sadaqa Day. However you’ll find that London’s faith communities are open and welcoming 365 days a year.”
Lord Bourne’s series of visits followed the publication last week of the Government’s Hate Crime Action plan. The Plan reiterates the Government’s commitment to preventing and tackling all forms of hate crime, and how we have – and will continue – to build our understanding and evidence.
The Department for Communities and Local Government also announced £1m of support for a range of projects that are working to prevent hate crime towards young people, including those who abuse and attack others because of their nationality, ethnicity or religious background. This includes continued funding for community partners such as the Anne Frank Trust which educates young people including in London about the damage caused by prejudice and hatred, Streetwise, which tackles so-called ‘casual’ anti-Muslim and antisemitic abuse in school playgrounds and Tell Mama and True Vision to encourage reporting of hate crimes.
The Plan also confirmed £2.4m funding for security measures at vulnerable faith institutions including mosques. Among the faith projects the Department for Communities and Local Government supports, is the Near Neighbours Programme. Since its launch, in 2011 over 1,100 Near Neighbours projects have been established, benefiting 1 million people in some of England’s, including London’s most diverse communities. Nine out of ten people polled feel a greater sense of togetherness or community spirit as a result of participating in our Near Neighbours campaign.