‘Vote for tolerance’

Rt Rev John Rawsthorne, Bishop of Hallam; Rev Liz Wills, Rev Louise Collins; Rt Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield; Fr Shaun Smith; Abdool Gooljar, President islamic Society South Yorkshire; Mike Fitter, Amida Buddist Order; Dr Vithal Patel, President Sheffield Hindu Samaj; and Patsy Cunningham, Sheffield and District Reform Jewish Congregation.
Rt Rev John Rawsthorne, Bishop of Hallam; Rev Liz Wills, Rev Louise Collins; Rt Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield; Fr Shaun Smith; Abdool Gooljar, President islamic Society South Yorkshire; Mike Fitter, Amida Buddist Order; Dr Vithal Patel, President Sheffield Hindu Samaj; and Patsy Cunningham, Sheffield and District Reform Jewish Congregation.
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Religious leaders across Sheffield united for a common cause when they urged the public to vote against extremism.

Key figures from faith communities, including representatives from Christian, Muslim, Jewish and other faiths, took to the steps of the Town Hall to promote their pro-tolerance message.

More than 10 religious leaders, including Abdool Gooljar, president of the Sheffield branch of the Islamic Society of Britain, Bishop of Sheffield the Rt Rev Steven Croft, and Patsy Cunningham of the Sheffield and District Reform Jewish Congregation signed a statement decrying ‘fascist and racist’ parties and urged people to vote wisely on May 22.

A joint statement released by the group said: “As leaders of faith communities we affirm the values of unity, tolerance and mutual respect, which have always helped people from different backgrounds to live together.

“We are deeply concerned at the activity of racist and fascist groups which try to exploit people’s fears and the economic crisis to stir up race hate and division.

“We also reject their demonisation of Muslims, and their claim to speak for Christians, as an affront to all our religions and beliefs, and a danger to the unity of the whole community.

“On May 22 the people of Sheffield and South Yorkshire will choose their Members for the European Parliament and local councillors to represent them in local government.

“We believe a high turnout of voters will help prevent candidates on extremist platforms from being elected in our region.

“So we urge the overwhelming majority to turn out and vote, and give a clear signal that messages of race hatred and division are not welcome here.”

Mr Gooljar added: “Once racism is eradicated, it will be the day I can say we can celebrate multiculturalism. Together as a community we can make this an achievable goal, one worthy of being scored.”

The Rt Rev Croft added: “I urge people to play their full part in the democratic process, to use their votes in the forthcoming elections and to resist all moves to divide our very diverse communities.”