Faithful Friends promote harmony on Newham march

Faithful Friends marched down Green Street to promote religious harmony in Newham

Faithful Friends marched down Green Street to promote religious harmony in Newham - Credit: Archant

A former mayor was among those marching against religious conflict on Saturday.

Abdul Karim Sheikh, 78, was mayor of Newham from 1998-99 and said it was important that believers and unbelievers alike joined against the violent division religious groups are engaged in.

He and other members of the borough’s Faithful Friends group, which works for social cohesion among different faiths, marched from Green Street Mosque to Ramgarhia Sikh Gurdwara in Neville Road.

Abdul, who has been chair of the mosque for 25 years and lived in West Ham since 1976, said the global situation demanded a show of solidarity.

“We wanted to show people we are one community and work together,” he said. “We are not restless despite what’s happening in the Middle East and other parts of the world.”


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He cited worries over Islamophobia and extremism as causes of tension in society, linking them to conflicts across the world.

And he said it was important that a borough as diverse as Newham serve as an example of the way in which different cultures can live side by side.

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“People are very worried about Islamophobia and extremism,” he said. “The borough is a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural society.”

Joining him on the march were his Faithful Friends colleague Rev Dr Chigor Chike, who leads worship at Forest Gate’s Emmanuel Church, and representatives from Minhaj-ul-Quran.

The group formed in 2007, encouraging social cohesion with its First Steps programme, which saw Muslims, Christians and Sikhs visit eachother in their places of worship.

Rev Dr Chigor said common values are more important than differences.

“When people have friends they don’t focus on their differences they focus on the things they have in common,” he said. “We take a positive approach rather than being bogged down in differences.

“We have faith in common so we came together and walked through the area to demonstrate the peace we want in our community.”

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