9:00am Thursday 15th November 2012
By Kate Banks
NICK Clegg met with Altrincham faith and community leaders to discuss strategies against religious hatred last week.
The Deputy Prime Minister was joined by Communities Minister, Don Foster, as well as members of Altrincham’s Christian and Jewish communities, at the Islamic Cultural Centre on Grove Lane, Hale, on November 8.
The centre has been victim of numerous racially-motivated attacks, most recently having its windows smashed four times during the night in March and April this year.
Describing the attack, centre trustee, Nasser Kundy, said: “This is a very cohesive community, we are integrated professional Muslims, we are Muslims that have worked very hard to become part of the community.
“So it’s even more shocking because it demonstrates that behind the veneer there is something there that’s very unstable and volatile.”
Those attending the meeting largely agreed that the attacks had been committed by a very small minority of the community.
The group then discussed ways of combating religious tensions, many suggesting increased youth education as a solution.
The meeting tied in with the DPM’s announcement that the government will be increasing funding to tackle ‘vile attacks against Muslims’.
The extra £214,000 funding will be put towards the Monitoring Anti-Muslim Attacks (MAMA) initiative, which was formed by Faith Matters in February 2012, and provides data and reports on attacks against Muslims.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Clegg said: “I spend a lot of my time travelling around the country talking to different communities and different faith groups who worry about incidents of violence and prejudice and of hatred and wherever that’s found it needs to be loudly condemned.
He added: “It was very, very encouraging that people from all parts of the community came together to discuss how we deal with this problem.”
Mr Kurdy said: “For someone like me to meet the DPM and actually have a one-to-one, it strengthens my belief in democracy.
“The discussion was very open and people felt free to express their opinions and I think the answers were sincere.”
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