As part of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s international Twinning initiative, the Imams and Rabbis National Council of the United Kingdom, held a series of events in Parliament and civic settings for faith leaders and scholars, anti-terrorist and security services, and the Jewish and Muslim communities.
On Monday 21 November, a high profile Grand Reception and panel was held at the House of Lords on the theme “Faith-ful or Faith-less: The Voice of God in the Public Sphere” for Jewish and Muslim, as well as Christian scholars and leaders. The event was opened by Lord Roberts of Llandudno and the Jewish community represented by Judge Laurence Brass, Treasurer of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who brought official greetings on behalf of the Board in solidarity with the work of the Imams and Rabbis National Council. Rabbi Reuben Livingstone, Chair of the Imams and Rabbis National Council was represented in an address from himself, and the event continued, with speeches by Sheikh Professor Mohamed Elsharkawy, Trustee of the Imams and Rabbis National Council and Grand Mufti of the United Kingdom, and from Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid, also Trustee of the Council. A keynote address was given by Revd Christopher Green, Vice Principal of Oak Hill College on the value of orthodox and conservative Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities coming together around their scriptures, and there were additional contributions from Prebendary Adrian Benjamin of St Paul’s Cathedral and also Tany Dempsey from the Clergy Liaison Group for the protestors around St Paul’s, on this topical theme.
On Tuesday 22 November, the very first symposium on the theme “Countering Violent Extremism” for law enforcement and security professionals, was held by the Imams and Rabbis National Council, addressing critical questions of antisemitism and Islamophobia affecting both communities. The event opened with a presentation by DCI Martyn Triggol, Lead Anti-terrorism Prevent officer for the Southwest demonstrating his film project on how vulnerable individuals are drawn into radicalisation. We were honoured to have Mr Mark Gardiner, Director of Public Affairs of the Jewish Community Security Trust present the excellent work of that organisation, and the model that it provides for Muslim and other communities. Sheikh Professor Mohamed Elsharkawy of the Imams and Rabbis National Council led a presentation of “Al-Furqan”, the pioneering counter-radicalisation programme which he is introducing for high-security Terrorism Act convicts in prison, and Imam Dr Abduljalil Sajid also spoke of the important work which he has done both in the UK and the United States on counter-extremism.
On the same day, Tuesday 22 November, there was an evening reception for members of the Jewish, Muslim and other faith communities, and during the rest of week, as part of the FFEU Twinning initiative there will be an “Open Jum’ah” on Friday 25 November, and “Open Shabbat” on Saturday 26 November, where a number of synagogues and mosques will run services and Torah study in parallel.