Rhodri Morgan: Five generations of peaceful Muslim integration

From a speech by the Welsh first minister to a symposium in Cardiff on community cohesion from a Muslim perspective
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The Independent Online

The events of 9/11, and the rapidly changing world in which we are living, bring the threat of terrorism into sharper focus. While we need to ensure that we have in place civil contingency measures to protect and safeguard the public and national infrastructure, we must also work hard to maintain and build positive community relations.

Post 9/11, there was a dramatic increase in violence, hate crimes, damage to property including mosques and Muslim business, and Islamophobic incidents directed at the Muslim community. This is just not going to be tolerated and The Welsh Assembly Government recognises our duty to work towards making Wales an inclusive and tolerant society, respecting all.

The Muslim community of Wales is one of the oldest established in the UK - more than five generations in the Cardiff area. The oldest mosque to be established in the UK was in Cardiff in 1860. The Muslim community has lived in peaceful coexistence within Welsh society and made a valuable contribution as citizens. Nothing should be allowed to divide us in Wales.

We have established an interfaith council for facilitating discussion between politicians and the major faiths in Wales on any matters affecting the economic and social life in Wales.

We support the integration of refugees and asylum-seekers through access to housing, training and education, healthcare and employment. Our efforts need to be increased to maintain good community relations. My vision of Wales remains one of a peaceful, understanding and tolerant society.