Last week I was invited to attend a Parliamentary meeting whose purpose I was informed was to help tackle racial and religious prejudices towards minority communities particularly Muslims - a cause about which I am passionate. I was not scheduled to speak however after a very short time was asked to say a few words about the issue which I did, making the point that we should never tolerate those who stoke up fear amongst communities of British Citizens.
Since speaking briefly, I have seen that my attendance is being used to suggest I was there to support the organisation MEND. This is incorrect, as I did not attend in support of that or any such organisation. Furthermore I also recognise that there are genuine concerns that this organisation may not be the force for community cohesion as is claimed. I note that most recently they criticised the appointment of a female British Muslim, Sara Khan, as Britain’s first ever Commissioner for Countering Extremism, an appointment I very much welcome and which I believe will help community cohesion.
It is my intention to discuss with Sara Khan how we in parliament can ensure that my colleagues are made aware of the nature of groups whose activities do not promote community cohesion.
It is a matter of pride for me that, over the course of my lifetime, the UK has become a more tolerant society, as social attitude surveys repeatedly show. We are more appreciative of different cultures and regularly celebrate the diversity of our communities. Nowhere is this more evident than in my Chingford and Woodford Green constituency.