Dame Louise Casey’s Independent Review of Integration and Opportunity, published in December last year, poses a number of challenges for faith leaders and faith communities in the UK. These include:
- High levels of segregation in particular communities;
- A growth in regressive religious and cultural ideologies;
- Attitudes and behaviours in some groups which support inequalities, intolerance and harm;
- Faith leadership condoning or promoting hateful and intolerant teaching;
- Interfaith work providing an unchallenged platform to those whose views and values undermine cohesion:
As part of the development of an Integration Strategy to be published in the Spring, Lord Bourne, invited leaders of the faith communities to discuss the following issues:
- How can faith leaders and communities promote shared British values and challenge the attitudes and behaviour of those who promote inequality and intolerance?
- How can we reach out through faith to isolated individuals and communities?
- What can be achieved by faiths coming together?
- How can Government promote the values of tolerance and equality, including through an integration oath for public officials, in a way that is compatible with faith communities’ freedom of belief?
Hindu Council UK’s Chairman-Umesh C Sharma represented the Hindu community at the meeting and said: “the UK is a place where people from all backgrounds are genuinely valued and accepted. These fundamental values lie at the heart of all the major faiths. It was very encouraging that the Government sees Integration, Interfaith relations and community cohesion as an important part of British society. The Roundtable meeting was an excellent opportunity for all faith leaders to share experiences and suggest ways forward to help the integration agenda. The Hindu Council UK have provided a written representation/briefing document and we look forward to our joint suggestions being implemented in the ‘integration strategy’ to be launched in the spring”
The Roundtable meeting was a broad listening exercise and an opportunity for an open discussion on the opportunities and challenges that are ahead of us. Lord Bourne was keen to identify positive practices already taking place in faith communities and what has been learnt in terms of overcoming such challenges, and how Government can best support and raise the profile of such activity.
Lord Bourne tweeted after the meeting: “Good to meet with Faith leaders & community reps today to gather views on strengthening integration- very productive”.
Hindu Council UK (HCUK)