London’s deputy mayor tasked with engaging with faith communities has set his sights on expanding interfaith dialogue and insisted it is “appalling” that anti-Semitism is a daily concern for members of the community.
Human rights lawyer Matthew Ryder, who was appointed to the new role two months ago, said dialogue was a “key ingredient of social integration” in the capital. Examples of Jewish and Muslim leaders coming together and emphasising commonalities is an “example to the rest of the world”, he claimed.
Ryder was speaking as City Hall hosted mayors from around Europe at its first social integration conference on Monday, which coincided with the start of national Interfaith Week.
In his first interview with the Jewish media since taking on the role, the Queen’s Counsel, who grew up in Golders Green, said the ideals of social justice that mean so much to him that have long key promoted by Jewish groups. He has already held talks with the Chief Rabbi and looked forward to engaging with the “many other” groups who have made contact to discuss issues from volunteering – which also comes under his portfolio – to tackling anti-Semitism.
“It’s really important for us to ensure that what seems to be anti-Semitism being given greater voice gets dealt with robustly – and I completely endorse the approach Sadiq has taken. It’s really important for us see anti-Semitism as an aspect of racism in its most heinous form and also look at it more closely for the particular aspects of anti-Semitism.
“Jewish Londoners have made a massive contribution to the way we live in London and it’s appalling we should be in a situation where anti-Semitism a concern the Jewish community faces each day.”
During his opening speech at the conference, Khan refelected on the “upheaval” of the Brexit and US presidential votes. “This has shown how politics is becoming more and more polarised with whole communities in cities across the world feeling increasingly disconnected and estranged from national politics,” he said. “That’s why now, more than ever, we need to build a strong sense of social solidarity within our cities – a renewed sense that we are united as neighbours and citizens.”