Denham’s new faith advisers

By Leon Symons and Martin Bright, January 7, 2010

Communities secretary John Denham has turned to two leading members of the Jewish interfaith community to help improve the relationship between government and faith communities.

Ros Preston, currently chair of Nightingale House, the old people’s home in south London, and Mehri Niknam, founder and director of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation, are among 13 new advisers who will act as a “sounding board” to give advice on how the government should engage effectively with faith communities.

Mrs Preston, a former treasurer of the Jewish Volunteering Network, said she put her name forward for the group last summer.

“The ministry asked for people to come forward and I felt it would be a good thing for the community to be
involved in,” she said.

She said she had worked previously with Mehri Niknam, who has worked with Jewish, Christian and Muslim groups and started the Joseph Foundation in 2007.

The Muslim faith advisers appointed by Mr Denham are Alveena Malik, a principal of the Institute of Community Cohesion and trustee of the Muslim Institute, and Wakkas Khan, director of the Exploring Islam Foundation and a founding member of the government’s Radical Middle Way initiative.

Although Ms Malik’s credentials are impeccable, questions may be raised about the Islamist sympathies of Mr Khan, who is a former president of the Federation of Student Islamic Societies (FoSIS).

Last updated: 5:11pm, January 7 2010