Response to the Prime Minister’s speech at the Munich Security Conference from the Presidents of the Christian Muslim Forum:

1. As Presidents of the Christian Muslim Forum we utterly condemn incitement to, and acts of, violence, and support attempts to get to the root of the issues we face together.  Our vision is of the UK as an open, inclusive, tolerant society built on strong shared values, supported by Christians and Muslims.

2. However, we are concerned that talking of ‘British values’ can encourage far right groups, who are now using the Prime Minister’s comments in their communications. It can also incorrectly imply that Muslims do not share ‘British values’.

3. We need a national conversation about integration and what an integrated society looks like.  As an organisation we promote this conversation locally and nationally, producing a leaflet on Local Friendship. Conversations must involve face to face meeting; lack of dialogue on common values and ‘extremism’ is part of the problem. We have been creating these conversations over the last five years with religious leaders, teachers, women, young people and academics.  One major barrier is repeated negative comments about the Muslim community, which encourage segregation and parallel living.

4. We fully recognise the need for Christian and Muslim leaders to condemn violent extremism and seek ways to overcome it, including analysis of the issues and underlying causes.

5. We encourage Christian and Muslim leaders to engage with Government to build a more confident and mature society with a much clearer understanding of our shared values, their roots and everyone’s place within that society.

 Rt Revd Dr Richard Cheetham (Co-Chair), Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra (Acting Co-Chair), Dr Nicholas Wood, Shaykh Abbas Ismail, Rt Revd Paul Hendricks, Rt Revd Donnett Thomas
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