It's easy to see our country as divided. Watch the news on Brexit or, most recently, the public reaction to Shamima Begum’s situation. Hate crime has risen. Extremists on either side of the political spectrum act with ever-increasing intolerance and prejudice.
The Liberal Democrats demand better than discrimination
Sunday’s “Visit My Mosque Day” was a welcome and timely change from that. It was a reminder that the majority from different faiths and communities get along fine. Most are happy to celebrate the diversity and multiculturalism that makes our country great.
Joined by other GLA candidates and London members, we took a tour of three Mosques in the capital. We started with the Suleymaniye Cultural Centre – a beautiful Ottoman style mosque with a Turkish focus.
From there, we went to the East London Mosque. It's one of the largest mosques in Europe with a largely Bangladeshi congregation. Our final visit of the day was to the regal Central Mosque in Regents Park. King George VI opened it in 1944 and it serves a very diverse and international community of worshippers.
All the mosques were very different. But in each one, we received warm hospitality and met people who were keen to share information. Not only about Islam - about the tremendous daily community and outreach work the mosques do. This year, the 250 mosques taking part also supported the “Keep Britain Tidy” campaign. We built our London 2020 campaign on that same kindness and compassion. Not only to our neighbours but our surrounding neighbourhoods. This was another example of how the day was an opportunity to recognise shared values. It's a chance to celebrate those areas and aspirations that we have in common.
I had a wonderful time today visiting three very different mosques for #VisitMyMosque Day. Thank you to everyone at @MuslimCouncil for the tremendous hospitality. And to @bc_hina for superb organisation. Also nice to meet @ChrisMusForum in Regents Park! pic.twitter.com/0KqnLTl7Z8— Siobhan Benita 🔶 (@SiobhanBenita) March 3, 2019
Both the Labour and Conservative Parties have had a challenging few weeks. Labour has lost MPs and members because of antisemitism. Baroness Warsi has again asserted that the Conservatives have a ‘Muslim problem’. This is following a recent report that 49% of Conservative voters think Islam is a threat to a British way of life.
The Liberal Democrats demand better than discrimination. We will fight all types of hate crime. Our London campaign needs to speak to voters of all faiths, of no faith, and from all London’s varied communities.
I'm looking forward to visiting many more places of worship over the coming months. Nothing beats talking with people face-to-face. Not only their concerns either - we want to hear their hopes and their aspirations. Join us on the campaign trail - let's get as many members out and doing the same as soon as possible.