Baroness Warsi champions Redbridge diversity at Eid dinner in Ilford
PUBLISHED: 15:44 02 July 2019 | UPDATED: 15:19 03 July 2019
In celebration of Eid, 155 guests attended a dinner hosted at the Ilford Islamic Community Centre.
The evening opened with a recital from the Quran, by Imam Khurram Rafiq, followed by speeches from notable community leaders.
The special guest was Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, known for her dedication to addressing Islamophobia and for her work on proposing an official definition for the term.
She talked about diversity and the cohesive community that Redbridge had become, saying: "Redbridge is one of the few boroughs that I can say is cosmopolitan, and a fully integrated society. And for that, we thank our community leaders.
"I've noticed most of all how connected Redbridge is, how engaged it is - this room is really a reflection of what is Britain."
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She also spoke about progress, and how her career had made her question how much progress had really been made, but that we should "continue to fight to make this a better place for our children".
MP for North Ilford, Wes Streeting had a different take on progress, insisting that "the faces of political change have changed a lot, things have moved on, social attitudes have changed in so many ways".
However, he also mentioned how more progress is necessary and he highlighted the need to draw a line under hate speech - "that fact is we are a diverse society, we have to have mutual respect".
Other guests at the dinner in Albert Road included Ilford South MP Mike Gapes, Mayor of Redbridge Councillor Zulfiqar Hussain and Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz as well as religious leaders of various faiths such as Rabbi Larry Becker from Redbridge Faith Forum and Trevor Mwamba, Vicar of Barking.
Rabbi Becker agreed with Baroness Warsi saying that although social attitudes in the UK had not changed as much as necessary, it was their work on change that mattered. Referencing the Jewish ethic, he said: "It is not for you to complete the task, but it is your duty not to desist from it."
Stephen Clayman, nine weeks into his new role as police Borough Commander, concluded the evening by thanking the leaders and councillors for their work in making Redbridge a cohesive borough.