Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was today calling for an end to religious hate crime during a visit to Manchester's Muslim community.
Mr Clegg told the M.E.N he wanted to see acts of hatred against Muslims wiped out – as he pledged to do all he could to put an end to 'abhorrent' prejudicial attacks.
The Liberal Democrat leader was visiting the British Muslim Heritage Centre, in Whalley Range, for a town hall-style summit with local community members and national Islamic organisations.
He was being joined by faith and communities minister Baroness Warsi and Lib Dem communities minister Don Foster.
The group was also visiting the Altrincham Muslim Cultural Centre, which has been the target of religiously-motivated vandalism.
Mr Clegg said: “The reason I'm doing this is because I have for sometime now been very worried about the prejudice, religious hatred and racially motivated violence directed at many Muslims in Manchester and elsewhere. There's absolutely no place for hate crime in modern society. Its an abhorrent thing.”
Mr Clegg was using his visit to announce an extra £214,000 funding for an initiative called Tell Mama (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks) run by interfaith group Faith Matters.
The national organisation will help to inform a cross-government working group set up to tackle the problem and follows work in the Jewish community, by the Community Security Trust, to record anti-Semitic attacks and shape action to prevent them.
The government now wants to get a similar picture of prejudice experienced by Britain's Muslim community.
Mr Clegg said: “The Muslim community is incredibly important for the country.
“This is a national issue but I was very keen to do this in Manchester where its particularly relevant.”
He said interfaith work between the local Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities was particularly important in standing up against intolerance and added: “I will do everything in my power to make sure we take the necessary steps.”
Mr Clegg also spoke to the M.E.N. in support of his party's candidates in next week's Manchester Central by-election and Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
He said: “Clearly we have to fight very hard in every election. I've never denied the fact that we have to fight harder now than we used to because of the controversies now of being in government.”
He said he was an admirer of by-election candidate, former councillor Marc Ramsbottom, and praised his knowledge of Manchester and his dignity in defeat at the local elections in May, when the party suffered heavy losses.
He said: ”He certainly deserves to be the MP for Manchester Central.”
Comments (74) worth a read
Baroness Warsi is to call on Mosques to encourage victims of anti-Muslim hate crime to come forward.
The Senior Minister for Faith at the Department for Communities and
Local Government is to write to all Imams to urge them to do more to
tackle the problem in their areas.