Roast beef and Yorkshire puddings. Fish and chips. Tea and crumpets. These three are all quintessentially British foods, yet the national dish of the UK is chicken tikka masala, which is a clear indication of the multicultural society in which we live.
For the most part, people of other faiths and cultures are welcomed into our community with open arms. The ideas of someone fasting for Ramadan or going into school with matzah sandwiches during Pesach, are not particularly alien. So why are interfaith and taking part in interfaith activities so important when other cultures have seemingly been adopted into our own? The simple answer is because they haven’t.
As we are all unfortunately aware, antisemitism in the UK is rising. But so is Islamophobia and xenophobia, suggesting that the UK should not be held as the multicultural model for other countries to follow. However, the rising status of racism can be seen as an educational opportunity. As a people that have been persecuted throughout the centuries, we know better than most the consequences of ignorance and the importance of accepting diversity. It is therefore important now more than ever, that we engage with interfaith events. Humans are social animals who tend to stick within familiar environments to themselves. It is therefore common for people to only have friends of similar racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds to themselves. Engaging with interfaith activities allows people to break out of this stereotype. It allows people to meet new people and have conversations about topics that they wouldn’t normally. Interfaith events open people’s eyes to the different cultures and traditions that surround us.
This week marks the start of national interfaith week. From discussions to dinners and film screenings to volunteering, there are so many ways for students to get involved with interfaith projects on campus. It is a very worthwhile cause and is very easy for interfaith events to be successful. Check out the list of what's going on already here and if you want to arrange something on your campus, don’t hesitate to get in touch and UJS can help to make it happen!
J-Soc Officer 2016-17