Written by Jasmine Shaikh – Legal Intern at ACAA
“We believe that good inter faith relations are a vital part of a harmonious, just and respectful society” – Interfaith Pledge
Sunday 12th November marks the start of Inter Faith Week 2017 which will continue until Sunday 19th November.
What is Inter Faith week?
In July 2008, the Department for Communities and Local Government published the ‘Face to Face and Side by Side’ Report. This document presented the Government’s strategy for encouraging further development of inter-faith activity in England. It set out how faith communities, Government and the wider society can work together, at all levels, to bring people with different religions and beliefs together.
In the course of the consultation, the Executive Committee of the Inter Faith Network for the UK proposed for a formal Inter Faith Week.
The main objectives of Interfaith week are to:
- Strengthen good inter-faith relations at all levels
- Increasing awareness of the different and distinct faith communities in the UK, in particular, celebrating and building on the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society
- Increasing understanding between people of religious and non-religious backgrounds
Interfaith Week and the ACAA?
London is an extremely diverse city made up of multiple faiths and cultures compared to Afghanistan’s population which is majority Muslim.
For this reason, most refugees who enter the UK do not have the awareness or understanding of different faiths.
Community cohesion and multi-faith awareness is a very important focus of the ACAA and we believe that educating refugees about different faiths and cultures in the UK, is key to building religious awareness, understanding and tolerance.
In light of this, the ACAA hold a weekly ‘Women’s Tea Corner’ for Afghan women to attend. One of the focuses of these sessions is to understand different beliefs which exist in the UK. The women are taught of the differences and similarities between faiths and beliefs to increase tolerance.
We also specifically encourage people of different faiths and backgrounds to attend our cultural and religious events. Visibility of different faiths at ACAA’s religious celebrations enables Afghan refugee’s attending the event to feel included and accepted by different faith-groups, which in turn increases community cohesion.
Click the link for the Eid blog here:
Unfortunately, the ACAA recognises that Hate Crime is a growing problem in the area. To tackle this, we held a Hate Crime and Unaccompanied Minors talk to highlight this issue. We specifically invited a wide range of members from the local community to attend.
Click the link for the Hate Crime blog here:
We also invited Hounslow Council to train our volunteers on Hate Crime reporting. The ACAA are proud to say they are a third-party reporting centre, and we offer a safe space for individuals to report any hate crimes experienced. We treat each complaint with the utmost confidence and ensure to progress the incident to the Metropolitan Police.
Click the link for the Hate Crime training blog here:
The Future of the Community
We hope to continue and increase our efforts to spread awareness and tolerance between members of different faiths to create a cohesive community. We hope Interfaith week marks the start of progress towards a positive future.