Page last updated at 09:45 GMT, Saturday, 6 February 2010

Christians and Muslims unite against extremism

Police at an English Defence League protest
Police hold back the English Defence League at a protest

Christians and Muslims in Wales are joining to discuss how to prevent "religious extremism" and "intolerance created by extremist parties".

Members of the Church in Wales and the Muslim Council of Wales are among those at a conference in Hawarden, Flintshire, over the weekend.

They will examine improving "community cohesion" in the latest of a series of events, Finding A Common Voice.

Saleem Kidwai, of the Muslim Council of Wales, said: "We are one nation."

The group say they want to "prevent intolerance, isolation and marginalisation created by extremist parties, such as the BNP and Welsh Defence League (WDL)".

Mr Kidwai, who is secretary general, added: "Community cohesion in Wales, generally, and north Wales, especially, was highlighted as an issue when the Welsh Defence League made an attempt in Wrexham to create disunity among the communities.

"The manner in which all communities stood together as one gave a clear message to WDL that in Wales we are one nation and together we stand.

"The same was demonstrated by the communities in Newport and Swansea. This is something we must hold on to."

The aim of this event is to explore in greater depth the implication of social cohesion policies for these two faith communities in Wales
The Reverend Canon Robin Morrison

The Reverend Canon Robin Morrison, bishops' adviser on church and society, said it was important the conferences asked awkward questions and tackled controversial issues.

He said: "The aim of this event is to explore in greater depth the implication of social cohesion policies for these two faith communities in Wales."

The conference is being held at St Deniol's library, which was founded in 1889 by William Gladstone, the former Liberal prime minister.

Mr Morrison said it was an appropriate venue for the talks as it has an Islamic section and is developing its Islamic studies.

"Gladstone would have approved of attempts to bridge the gap between Islam and Christianity and encourage an open and inclusive dialogue about difficult social issues," he said.

The event is the eighth in a series of special consultations organised by the Church in Wales in partnership with the Muslim Council of Wales, the Welsh Centre for International Affairs and St Deiniol's Library, supported by the assembly government.

Issues previously addressed have included the role of women in religion; religious stereotypes; school projects to tackle religious prejudice; citizenship; and global challenges.



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