Page last updated at 13:16 GMT, Sunday, 9 May 2010 14:16 UK

Report warns Sikh-Islamic relations threatened by BNP

Muslim and Sikh handshake
Muslims and Sikh relations are at risk from the BNP, it is claimed

The British National Party (BNP) could push Sikh-Muslim tensions to breaking point in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, it has been warned.

The claim was made in a research paper by Professor Gurphal Singh of Birmingham University for inter-denominational group Faith Matters.

In it he accuses the BNP of siding with Sikhs and encouraging Islamaphobia.

But this was rejected by the BNP, who said the party was simply reflecting concerns that were in all communities.

Faith Matters director Fiyaz Murghal said the BNP had distributed leaflets suggesting race relation problems lay with Muslim communities and not Sikhs or Hindus.

Cultural heritage

"There have been points of very clear co-existence and there are points of tension," he said.

"What the far-right does is use the issue of tension and completely forget the co-existence of peaceful elements, just focussing on the negative."

BNP sub-regional organiser Richard Lumby said the issues the party addressed did not exist "in a vacuum".

"If we disappeared tomorrow the concerns wouldn't go away," he said.

"We are not 'pal-ing' up with the Sikh community. We're being approached by people who see the views we're expressing, the concerns of ordinary people."

Faith Matters aims to promote and develop community cohesion between different faiths.

Prof Singh's findings called for Sikhs and Muslims to engage and "rediscover" their shared cultural heritage.

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