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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Prince calls for greater tolerance
Prince Charles meets religious leaders
Prince Charles met religious leaders in Birmingham
The Prince of Wales has launched a campaign for greater tolerance and understanding between different faiths and religions.

The campaign, named Respect, is part of the prince's contribution to the Golden Jubilee celebrations.

At the launch of the campaign at Birmingham's International Convention Centre on Monday, the prince met religious leaders from different faiths and called for greater understanding.

Although the campaign will initially focus on greater tolerance between faiths, it will also target people in all areas of society over two years.

Embrace cultures

Speaking at the conference, the prince said there had been too many examples of intolerance over the past few years.

He said: "Good neighbourliness is perhaps one of the things most in need of repair.

"In the next two years, I hope the movement we are launching today will be able at least to help in the repair work.

Prince Charles
Prince Charles called for greater tolerance

"It is about the young Muslim mowing the lawn for the elderly Hindu lady down the street or the choir from the Catholic Church singing to entertain the Jewish old people's club.

"It is the small things above all that will make our communities a better place to live."

The prince particularly hopes to encourage children to embrace others from different backgrounds and spend more time learning to understand new cultures.

The idea is that volunteers, mostly young people, will be urged to work together and share more leisure time with strangers from other backgrounds.

Schools will be sent information packs and be invited to take part.

Prince Charles' plan is born out of several meetings he has held over the years with various religious leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury.

'Faith defender'

He took a close interest in the riots in Bradford last summer and hosted a dinner at his Highgrove home for leading Muslim figures shortly after 11 September.

In 1994, he declared his intention to reign as "defender of faith" rather than "defender of the faith".

In Birmingham, the prince met, among others:

  • Chief Rabbi, Dr Jonathan Sacks

  • The Anglican Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones

  • Muslim scholar, Dr Zaki Badawi

  • Chairman of the Sikh Network, Indarjir Singh

  • Hindu representative, Dadi Janki

    The campaign was put together with the government-backed TimeBank charity, which raises awareness of volunteering.

    It plans to mobilise hundreds of volunteers to endorse the Respect project.

    Spokeswoman Helen Thompson said: "It's all about giving people more time with each other."

    In the early stages of the project, faith networks will be used to distribute leaflets.

    Later, nationwide campaigns will be run to encourage people to display greater respect and understanding to others at work and in the street.

    The BBC's Nicholas Witchell reports from Birmingham
    "Promoting inter-faith understanding is a priority of the Golden Jubilee"

    Click here to go to BBC Birmingham Online
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