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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Muslim community leader claims Enoch Powell helped bring faith communities closer together in Wolverhampton (UK)

A controversial anti-immigration speech by a leading Midland politician had the unlikely effect of strengthening inter-faith relations in his home city, a Muslim leader has claimed.

Wolverhampton South West MP Enoch Powell was sacked as Shadow Defence Secretary by party leader Edward Heath after his notorious Rivers of Blood speech in 1968 for heightening racial tensions.

But strong bonds of friendship were forged in the city in reaction to the speech, said Harun Rashid, chairman of the Wolverhampton Inter Faith and Regeneration Network.

He said: “Many people in Wolverhampton felt very uncomfortable when he made that speech and were not happy with what he said. They decided they would create an inter-faith group. This is how the Wolverhampton Inter Faith Group came into being.

“I think Wolverhampton is one of the most harmonious cities in the country and we are very proud of that. We understand each other and there is no ignorance. Where there is ignorance there is prejudice; and prejudice creates fear. I think to a very large extent we have removed that prejudice because we have removed the ignorance and as a result communities have come together. This has made a big contribution to the city’s life.”

Mr Rashid was speaking at a gathering of faith leaders from the north west Midlands hosted by Bishop of Lichfield the Rt Rev Jonathan Gledhill.

The discussion in Lichfield was followed by a Black Country celebration of faith three days later at Darlaston Town Hall in which leaders and representatives from Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and Ravidassi communities explained their faith.

Darlaston Muslim leader Mohammed Rafiq said: “We are determined to show that people of different faiths can live together as good neighbours and grow together in spirit.

“Perhaps this is all the more urgent in view of the aggressive relationships we hear of elsewhere in the world.”

Brimingham Mail