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FORMO chairman: The ‘enormous’ challenges we face

PUBLISHED: 09:36 27 March 2015 | UPDATED: 12:32 27 March 2015

Volunteers packed up the donated food at the Gardens of Peace Cemetery in Hainault

(from Right to left)Farouk Ismail Chairman of Formo Rebridge Muslims, Bashir Patel Ilford Muslim Society Balfour Road Mosque, and Mohammed Azam Ilford Islamic Centre Albert Road Mosque

Volunteers packed up the donated food at the Gardens of Peace Cemetery in Hainault (from Right to left)Farouk Ismail Chairman of Formo Rebridge Muslims, Bashir Patel Ilford Muslim Society Balfour Road Mosque, and Mohammed Azam Ilford Islamic Centre Albert Road Mosque

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A leading Muslim organisation’s chairman says the challenges his community faces are “enormous” – but insists patience is key if faith relations are to be maintained.

Farouk Ismail, 64, was announced as the new chairman of FORMO – the Federation of Redbridge Muslims Organisation – in September and immediately set about putting together the group’s homeless shelter appeal.

Eight months on and Mr Ismail is settling into his role coordinating the mosques and Islamic organisations in the borough.

But the Zimbabwean-born insurance director, who moved to this country in 1978, issued a strong message to the faith community in the wake of a series of external pressures to cohesion between faiths.

“The challenges we face are enormous but the thing is to keep our head above the water,” he said. “We are not going to achieve everything in one go.

“In Redbridge I would like to see a better understanding of the Muslim community.”

FORMO was set up in 2008 to unite Redbridge’s Muslims under one organisation, so there was “a collective voice” on issues affecting both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

Mr Ismail cited the positive relations between the Jewish and Muslim communities as one such example where FORMO has had a beneficial impact.

He said there were “common areas”, such as meat preparation and human burials, where the two groups had worked together.

Mr Ismail, who said it was inevitable there would be pressures – or “strains” – on faith relations in a borough such as Redbridge.

“At times you get little strains but that should not be in the case in Redbridge because we have got all sorts of people and that is all we need to work together for a better borough,” he added.

“FORMO is about bringing communities together. I think people like to be identified by their communities – I do not think there is anything inherently wrong with that.
“It is down to a matter of choice. Some people like a more secular environment, but some like a more faith based environment.”


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