Communities Secretary Sajid Javid urges Jews and Muslims to unite against hate

Mr Javid said the whole country must work to ensure minority groups are “welcomed, engaged with, understood, celebrated, supported”.


Jews and Muslims can work together to build strong communities and beat intolerance and hate, according to the government’s most senior Muslim minister.

Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, said he wanted to set out a strategy for improving integration in Britain to “make that aspiration a reality”.

After weeks of violence and death in London, Mr Javid outlined his concerns about the damage done to societies.

“Division, in any society, is corrosive,” he said. “It breeds mistrust, anxiety and prejudice. It can lead to violence, even death.

“Like you, I’m not prepared to simply stand by and let that continue. We must do more to help people from all backgrounds become more integrated. And I’m determined to do it.”

Mr Javid said the whole country must work to ensure minority groups are “welcomed, engaged with, understood, celebrated, supported”.

The minister was speaking at the inaugural “shared society” dinner of the Abraham Fund, a charity which promotes coexistence and equality among Jews and Arabs in Israel.

He told guests at the event in central London last night: “We can choose to bury our heads in the sand, look the other way and pretend it’s not a problem.

“We can choose to point fingers, get caught up in chicken and egg arguments about who’s responsible, who should take the first step to rapprochement.

“Or we can choose to do something about it. We can choose to be the agents of change, to say ‘no, this isn’t good enough’, and we can take positive steps, real action to break down barriers and build up stronger communities.”

Mr Javid said he did not want to see “cultural assimilation” or cases of “everyone pretending to be the same”. There should be a celebration of diversity but all communities needed to “subscribe to the same basic ideals and values”, he added.

It would be essential for civil society groups and charities to work alongside the government to ensure communities could “grow organically”.

Mr Javid also spoke about the “heroes” who had responded to the tragedies of the past month including the Grenfell Tower disaster and the terror attacks at Westminster Bridge, London Bridge and in north London.

Referring to the aftermath of Sunday night’s Finsbury Park terror attack, Mr Javid said he had seen “a neighbourhood refusing to be divided, a city refusing to be cowed, an Imam saving the life of a man who, it is alleged, wanted to kill him.

“The worst of Britain attacked Finsbury Park. The best of Britain responded.

“We saw the same in the response to the attacks in Westminster, London Bridge and Manchester. We saw it in this weekend’s Great Get Together, marking the first anniversary of the murder of Jo Cox.

“We saw it during Ramadan when synagogues hosted Iftars for their Muslim neighbours.

“We see it every day in countless small acts of kindness across the diverse, strong communities that make up so much of Britain. It’s all a reminder that Britain is one of the world’s most successful multicultural societies.”

Mr Javid said the Abraham Fund was already carrying out work in Israel which could be replicated elsewhere.

“For nearly 30 years, you’ve shown the world that even in the most difficult of circumstances, the most fractured of societies it is possible to bring together people who would otherwise be strangers,” he said.

“And you’re doing it in so many innovative, exciting ways. You’re not just saying ‘why can’t we all just get along’, you’re out there making a real difference on the ground.”

Mr Javid concluded that while it might be “supremely arrogant” to believe that it was possible to “overcome disputes that run back to Isaac and Ishmael”, he had “hope” that Jewish and Muslim groups could work together for a positive future.

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