Interfaith project has royal backing

A new interfaith programme to teach primary-school children about Judaism, Christianity and Islam was launched to royal acclaim on Tuesday.

David Khalili, the Iranian-born Jewish founder of the Maimonides Foundation, said that he had commissioned the Interfaith Explorers resource in tribute to the Queen.

“For 60 years, she has presided over a realm and Commonwealth which embraces many faiths,” he told a large gathering of religious leaders and educators at the Central London Mosque.

Prince Andrew, a patron of the foundation, one of the first charities to promote Muslim-Jewish dialogue, said: “What we are doing here is a part of what the Queen stands for — which is respect for her people, respect for your faith and tolerance of that faith within the community.”

Interfaith Explorers is a six-week programme for 10-11 year olds, available free to primary schools as well as a website with a bank of 400 videos.

Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks, who features in one video, welcomed “a superb and much-needed project. Children need to know about faiths other than their own so that they will grow up without the ignorance that leads to fear and suspicion. Interfaith Explorers will plant the seeds of tolerance at a young and vital age.”

According to a Populus poll commissioned by the foundation, more than two-thirds of people believed children should learn about faiths other than their own.

More than 70 per cent thought that religious misunderstanding was a cause of world problems. But only 29 per cent of 18-to-29 year olds questioned knew that Jews, Christians and Muslims believed in the same God.

Last updated: 9:47am, May 31 2012