Communities Secretary Hazel Blears visited the Manchester Jewish Museum last Friday to express backing for its plans for a centre of tolerance on its Cheetham Hill site.
Ms Blears spent 90 minutes at the museum, discussing the “high priority” project with museum director Stuart Hilton.
The centre will be the first of its kind in the UK and is based on the Museum of Tolerance established in Los Angeles by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre. The high-tech American complex attracts 300,000 visitors annually and over 130,000 police officers have gone through its tolerance training programme.
Manchester is looking to develop something similar and is working with the London-based company which designed the LA centre.
Mr Hilton told the JC: “The government made a blunder in thinking that everybody can be the same. There is a much stronger case for social cohesion. If we are going to live in harmony, we need to do something about it.” He advised Ms Blears that the plan was to complete the centre in time for the 2012 London Olympics.
Cheetham Hill, once a thriving Jewish area, now houses a large Muslim community and other ethnic minorities.
The museum’s site is thus seen as an ideal location for a centre dealing with community relations.