by Balraj Singh Nijjar & Birmingham Post
An Inter Faith Conference was held at Guru Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha Gurdwara in Birmingham which was hosted by Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Chairman of GNNSJ. The conference was held over three days and discussed: Religion in the public sphere, religion in education, how to achieve community cohesion and build bridges between faith communities and wider society.
Over 25 prominent religious leaders from Europe toured the Gurdwara and
partook in Langar, many for the first time. They were impressed with the warmth and hospitality of the Gurdwara Sevadars
Global religious tensions should be tackled at a local level, an MP said in Birmingham today.
John Battle, the Prime Minister’s faith envoy, said the religious challenges facing the world were now evident in neighbourhoods across the UK.
Speaking before a major faith conference in Handsworth, Mr Battle said religious groups needed to accept each other in order to live together side by side.
He said: "The tensions need to be sorted out in our neighbourhoods. The real challenges around the globe are now local.
"People need to get out more and speak to their neighbours and get to know them - learn about their religion and where they come from. There is no excuse for ignorance."
Mr Battle, MP for Leeds West, said the UK had become more like a secular society, with many people struggling to find values of any religion.
He said: "There is a search for religious values to see if they can be counted in to positively contribute answers to the challenges we face."
Today’s conference, of the European Council of Religious Leaders (ECRL), will hear from the continent’s top faith leaders.
It aims to tackle the challenges facing Muslims living in Britain, including the threat of extremism and terrorism.
Ata’ullah Siddiqui, co-chair of the Christian Muslim Forum, said extremism and terrorism were issues that needed to be addressed by all faiths.
He said: "It is not simply a Muslim issue. It has to be resolved by all faiths. The causes of terrorism and extremism need to be addressed."
He said one way to help resolve the issue is to encourage young people of all faiths to meet regularly, in they hope that they learn to live together.
Dr Siddiqui said: "Each religion has its own problems with its young people.
"They should have the opportunity to meet other young people of other faiths."
The ECRL conference is being held at a Sikh temple in Handsworth and is scheduled to conclude Wednesday lunchtime.
Those attending the conference include the Bishop of London, the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels and the Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev Diarmuid Martin.
There are also representatives from the Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist communities from across Europe.
It is the first time the group has held one of its conferences in the UK.