Christians and Muslims in Wales have come together for a two-day consultation aimed at strengthening relations and enabling practical cooperation in tackling religious extremism and discrimination.
The meeting, held over the weekend of 6-7 January 2010, was the eighth to be held as part of the Finding A Common Voice initiative launched in 2007 by the Church in Wales and the Muslim Council of Wales.
The latest consultation focused on improving community cohesion and preventing the spread of intolerance, isolation and marginalisation by racist parties like the BNP and extreme groups such as the Welsh Defence League.
Speakers included the Anglican Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Rev Gregory Cameron, Islamic scholar Dr Abdalla Yassin Mohammed, and Joanne Glenn, chair of the Welsh Assembly Government Community Cohesion Unit.
The Anglican bishops’ adviser on church and society, the Rev Canon Robin Morrison, said it was important that the meeting tackled the awkward questions and "explored in greater depth the implication of social cohesion policies for these two faith communities in Wales."
He added that "we are very pleased that the Assembly is working in partnership with us."
The venue for the meeting was St Deniol’s Library which was founded by Gladstone and is developing its Islamic studies: Robinson said of the founder: "Gladstone would have approved of attempts to bridge the gap between Islam and Christianity and encourage an open and inclusive dialogue about difficult social issues.”
Saleem Kidwai, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Wales, commented, “Community cohesion in Wales, generally, and North Wales, especially, was highlighted as an issue when the Welsh Defence League made an attempt in Wrexham to create disunity among the communities."
He added: “The manner in which all communities stood together as one gave a clear message to WDL that in Wales we are one nation and together we stand. The same was demonstrated by the communities in Newport and Swansea. This is something we must hold onto."