Select Committee on Religious Offences in England and Wales Written Evidence

Submission from representatives of various faith communities

  We are making this submission to the Committee as leaders of various faith communities in the United Kingdom desiring to urge the Committee to favourably consider the present Bill against the incitement of Religious Hatred.

  The United Kingdom is a multi-faith country which should and does in the main rejoice in the diversity of its populations and religions. Much inter-religious ecumenical work has been done between our faiths, we have learnt a lot from each other whilst maintaining our own religious convictions. The key to co-existence has been a recognition that we all live in the same society and a desire to understand each other's view of God and the world, and of our respective fears and hopes. Even in an essentially secular society such as ours, religion remains a foundation of our identities and our aspirations. Indeed, amongst many of us religious belief is a core element of personal and communal identity.

  Therefore, if we are to support the creation of a modern multi-cultural/ethnic and religious society, it is of paramount importance that religions are protected in so far as their adherents should not be subject to attacks either physical or through incitement on account of their religious affiliation. There exists already some protection for Anglicans, Jews and Sikhs, and we wholeheartedly support this, but there is now a need to extend legal protection for members of other religious faith who have an equal right to respect as citizens of this country.

  Therefore, we urge the Committee to recommend the enactment of the Bill against Religious Hatred into law.

Dr Jagdev Singh Rai (Sikh)
Dr Natubhai Shah (Jain)
Ven Dr M Vajiragnana (Buddhist)
Mr O P Sharma (Hindu)
Dr M A Zaki Badawi (Muslim)

19 September 2002

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