Minister Was Visiting for National Integration Roadshow
On a visit to Birmingham, the Minister for Faith and Communities has urged members of all faiths and communities to tackle hate crime together.
Talking to a crowd at Birmingham’s Tally Ho Sport’s and Conference Centre in Edgbaston, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi spoke about the city’s proud history in tackling religious hatred, however reminded them that there was much work still to be done.
“However much you tackle hate crime there is still a problem to tackle. Post-Woolwich there has been a steep rise is anti-Muslim hate crime and because of this diversity has become a really important aspect.”
The event was held as part of the Government’s ‘Integration Roadshow’ taking part around the UK.
Having been hosted by Birmingham Council, the scheme is part of a broader programme of work in which the Minister discussed the Government’s approach to integration and what it has been doing to help tackle hate crime.
In reference to her unprecedented and historic 2011 speech in which she famously stated that, hostility to Muslims has “passed the dinner table test”; Baroness Warsi said that she was pleased that the Government had responded to the speech. Since the speech organisations such as Tell MAMA and True Vision – portals that enable members of the public to record hate crimes have been set up.
Talking to The Asian Today Baroness Warsi said that it was time to tackle hate crimes head on. “It’s been a pleasure to be here today in Birmingham to see such a wide range of people from so many different faith’s and communities. If we truly want to understand what it going on in our communities then we will have to step out of our offices in Whitehall and actually come here to these communities and have incredibly frank open conversations, which is what we had today.”
“I think we had an hour and a half of quick fire questions where we’ve been able to explore some incredibly difficult scenarios and challenges. But what I think has come back overwhelmingly is the amount of goodwill there is in faith communities the number of people that are working hard to bring different communities together but also people that are prepared to take leadership opportunities and push back on some of the hate crime individual communities are facing.
“When asked about what more can be done to deal with stereotypes against Asian women in particular she said, “I hope everyday in my own way I’m tackling misconceptions about what Asian women can do and what Muslim women can do. I think there are a lot of stereotypical views about communities out there and that’s why it’s important to be in public life and it’s important to be in leadership positions so just by doing what you are doing your challenging those stereotypes.”
Also in attendance was Rick Yubi from Handsworth’s Nishkam Centre who said that integration is about acting on what we promise.
“From today’s event I take away the simple idea of let’s get together and let’s move forward and share good values. It is about acting and not rhetoric. It is great to say yes we do not need leadership at a higher level but by the same token she spoke about faith illiteracy at government level. So unless we address it how can we expect it to filter through to the grassroots.”
“We have got to break down those barriers and create better relationships. We have to stop focusing on that 5% that spread negativity and focus on that 95% that spread positivity.”
Jessica Foster of Near Neighbours, a programme which brings together religious and ethnic communities, said, “I’m really pleased to hear about inter-faith social action and I think it is really fantastic when communities come together to transform neighbourhoods and tackle social poverty. I was very interested in what Baroness Warsi had to say about leadership. I think it is really important that we all step up and speak out on each other’s behalf.”
“Diversity is hugely important, nationally and not just locally. It was very interesting when the Minister said diversity has an impact on the economy too so there is every reason for us to embrace diversity.”
Tracy Robbins of West Midland Police added, “I have thoroughly enjoyed the event this afternoon and was very interested to hear what Baroness Warsi had to say. It was amazing to see that all faiths had been represented here today, and had the chance to put their view across to the Minister.”