Annual faith event draws Royal approval

The many faith groups of Redbridge were brought together for a joint celebration at Ilford Community Centre, Eton Road, last night (December 8).

The annual event, organised by the League of British Muslims and its chair Bashir Chaudhry, also received Royal backing, with the Queen sending her best wishes to guests.

Members of the borough’s Christian, Hindu, Jewish and Muslim faith groups were able to wish each other happy Christmas, Eid, Hanukkah and Diwali festivities.

It also gave speakers a chance to explore the idea of the Big Society and the contribution of religious groups to community service.

Mr Chaudhry highlighted the role of faith in the borough, but called on religious leaders to do more.

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He said: “When they say love thy neighbour, they don’t say only if he is a Muslim or a Christian or a Jew.

“Sadly faith leaders have lost touch with their local communities.

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“They appear to take a back seat and take an overly cautious approach.

“We need leaders to work in partnership, to take risks and open themselves up to criticism.”

A message read out from the Queen said she wished guests well for the celebrations.

And Lee Scott, the MP for Ilford North, praised the evening’s host.

He said: “I particularly want to play tribute to Bashir and look forward to working with you for many years to come. “What makes us [Redbridge] unique is the way we work together.”

Mike Gapes, MP for Ilford South, said “Ilford was the centre of the world” because of its diversity.

The evening began with a recitation by Imam Hafiz Sher Barkati before Rabbi David Hulbert introduced the Redbridge Israeli Faith Dancers who performed a number of folk songs for the audience.

Other speakers included council leader Keith Prince, the Mayor of Redbridge Chris Cummins and Major General George Norton, commander of the army’s London forces.

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