This project is an initiative of Joseph Interfaith Foundation - the only national joint Muslim-Jewish interfaith charity in the country- . Led by senior imams and rabbis who are members of the foundation’s National Council of Imams & Rabbis, it is an educational project for refugees aged 16-26 focusing on refugees from Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Afghanistan, but open to all refugees regardless of their country of origin.
The project was launched on 17th November, during national Interfaith Week 2016, at the House of Lords. Senior religious and community leaders of Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities attended the launch.
Lord Bourne of Aberystwyth, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government gave the opening remarks.
Lord Bourne said:
“The work of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation is very important for interfaith relations in this country. This is an excellent and necessary project for the young refugees and I congratulate the Foundation for initiating it.”
Speaking about the project, Mehri Niknam MBE, Executive Director of the Foundation said:
"The major aims of this project are to inform young refugees and offer them support from various professional, voluntary and religious bodies; to assist them build resilience against being misled through misunderstanding and help them to integrate more easily into the society. It is also the best way to demonstrate to them the significance of good interfaith relations in this county.”
Sir David Michels, Jewish trustee of the foundation said:
“My father came here as a refugee not speaking English, but he learned to love this country. The ultimate aim of all who come to this country should be to learn to love the country.”
Judge Khurshid Drabu CBE, Muslim trustee of the Foundation said:
“It is not the faith that impels people to become radicals but those who peddle misinterpretation of it for their own benefit. This project is an excellent example of positive results of people of faith working together to help the refugees”
Lord Hussain of Luton said:
“People of all faiths coming together, particularly Jewish and Muslim communities, will set an excellent example for the world. I support this excellent project.”
Mr Sheida Moussavi, Patron of the Foundation said:
“Both Islam and Judaism contain injunctions to care for the poor. Among the neediest people in the world at present are the vast numbers of refugees. We are here today to support the foundation’s project for young refugees“
Rabbi Binstock senior rabbi of St John’s Wood United synagogue and a member of the foundation’s National Council of Imams & Rabbis said:
“I am delighted that the Joseph Interfaith Foundation has undertaken this initiative to introduce refugees to the “Social Culture of Britain” and, speaking on behalf of the Chief Rabbi as well, we look forward to giving this project our full support.”
Commander Mak Chishty of metropolitan Police said:
“When we come together like this it reminds us of the greater good that we can achieve. When we stand together, we can repel any extremism.”
Rt Revd Jonathan Clark, Bishop of Croydon who is Chair of the Churches’ Refugee Network said:
“I am particularly glad to be here in support of this project. Helping the refugees must not just be left to the statutory bodies. It is essential that refugees become friends with variety of people.”
Rabbi Danny Rich, Chief Executive of Liberal Judaism, Co-chair of the National Refugees Welcome Board, and a member of the Foundation’s National Council of Imams & Rabbis said:
“This project will provide very important education for the successful integration of refugees. We are delighted to support the project.”