Last night I attended a fundraising event for the Haitian earthquake disaster. The organisers, Birmingham Citizens and Islamic Relief, sold over 900 tickets and by the time I left over £30,000 had been raised. It brought home to me how much this catastrophe has touched everyone. And it also underlined how solidarity brings us together. The audience was very diverse, with people from all faith communities present. Speakers emphasised that the event was not about religion, or whether we shared the same faith – it was about our common humanity. Religious people sometimes think it is easier to appeal for support for others of the same faith. Last night disproved that myth. Islamic Relief have set themselves the target of raising £1million in aid for Haiti. Hats off to the organisers. It showed multicultural Birmingham working at its best.
Earlier that evening I visited the Qadri Trust Mosque in Sparkbrook. They had organized an open door community and cross-party event to celebrate the life of the Prophet Mohammed. The small mosque was crammed and the event was filmed by Noor TV. Again, what struck me about it was the extent to which people were reaching out to others of different faith and race backgrounds. Our Lord Mayor was there and I was happy to see Christian ministers Ray Gaston and Toby Howath there too. My experience is that mosque committees are working harder to reach out to their non-Muslim neighbours. It is essential that that work continues and deepens if barriers are to be broken down. Qadri Trust Mosque is setting a good example to others.