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Eastern Eye article about the Muslim Jewish Forum

14 October 2011

The newspaper Eastern Eye has published an article about the MJF based upon interviews with Jonny Wineberg and Afzal Khan. A PDF version of the page is on this website, and the text is also imported below.

Finding a common remedy to religion

Jews and Muslims come together by Imran Choudhury

A GROUNDBREAKING group is aiming to bring British Muslims and Jews together and break the barriers created by conflict in the Middle East.

By focusing on issues of shared interest such as business, they hope to overcome mutual suspicion. The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester holds interfaith events every month to help the two communities to come together.

They will be holding a Business Networking Group on November 20 at the Manchester Conference Centre in a bid to get Muslim and Jewish businessmen working together to form new ventures.

They also have a Lawyers & Accountants Group and regularly hold women’s events.

Councillor Mohammed Afzal Khan and Jonny Wineberg both from Greater Manchester, are the co-chairs of the forum.

Khan established the forum in 2004 along with the late Henry Gutterman. He told EE: “We keep hearing about all the hostility taking place in the Middle East and political problems there, but we thought if you want to solve some of these issues, we have to talk."

“So the best way to do this is to have a venue or an organisation where we can talk together.”

Khan admits there is a general antipathy between the two groups often exacerbated by events in the Middle East.

“The antipathy is usually ignorance, and as soon as you come closer to each other, you realise that we are all human beings and the common humanity joins us together.”

Khan said the forum generally tries to focus on issues where the groups can come together in a common cause, and there is much locally they can agree to work together on.

“We have agreed to disagree on the issue of Israel and Palestine. We live here, we need to focus here, we need to see how we need to work together here, how we can help one another and help society at large,” he said.

Wineberg, who joined as the co-chair in 2007, said it’s ironic that the Islam and Judaism are so closely linked, yet Muslims and Jews are so far apart.

He told EE: “There is no faith closer to Judaism than Islam. We stem from the two sons of Abraham. We have similar beliefs across a range of matters, from birth to death, and we need to know each other better to improve the way we view each other."

“The media has, for many years, portrayed Jews and Muslims as opponents and I wanted to do something to change this. The fear that has been created has meant that far too little education of each others faiths has happened in school and even less for adults."

WIneberg added: “The communities have also not associated together, which, again, has meant too little opportunity to learn about each other.”

He added that there are many circumstances where individuals from the two communities do meet, particularly in business but also through sports like cricket.

“These give us the opportunities that we are looking to build on to try and improve relations,” said Wineberg.

 

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Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester

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