Faith leaders meet to promote inclusivity amid ‘rising legitimisation of hate’
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Faith leaders meet to promote inclusivity amid ‘rising legitimisation of hate’

'Faith is too significant to ignore, if we are to build prosperous and inclusive cities', said Leonie Lewis, who leads the Cities Faith and Community Forum Seminar project

Representatives from different faiths in cities across the UK and Europe have met in London to plan how best to work with city authorities to build inclusion.

The meeting at the Guildhall on Thursday heard from senior faith leaders who warn about “growing hostility with the rise and legitimisation of hate”.

Those who met included Faiths Forum for London and the UK-based Cities Faith and Community Forum, together with the Dublin City Interfaith Forum, Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association, Churches together Wales and Kreuzberg Initiative against Antisemitism, Berlin and the Office of Kishan Manoocha in Warsaw.

Cities Faith and Community Forum Seminar project lead Leonie Lewis, the former director of the Jewish Volunteering Network and vice-president of the United Synagogue, said faith could play a key role in tackling city problems.

“Faith is too significant to ignore, if we are to build prosperous and inclusive cities,” she said. “We are working together to develop more inclusive strategic policies and plans between faith communities, and city governing bodies in order to most effectively meet city priorities.”

However, Lewis said it was “shocking” that the United Nations’ New Urban Agenda “is almost entirely silent about the role of faith and religion in the cities of the future, despite 84 percent of the global population adhering to a religious faith”.

Speaking at the Forum, Mustafa Field, director of Faiths Forum for London, said: “Across Europe, we are seeing growing hostility with the rise and legitimisation of hate against people simply because they appear different. This has fostered a climate whereby minority faith communities feel marginalised.”

He added that “a lack of faith literacy is often a significant contributing factor to faith-based prejudice and discrimination, as well as the misrepresentation of certain religions or religious groups”.

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