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Faith charity funding is being withdrawn at a “extraordinarily stupid” moment

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The government has been charged with closing the primary platform for Jewish-Muslim discourse in the UK at a moment that was “extraordinarily stupid.”

Founded in 1987, the Inter Faith Network said it will confirm on Thursday if the charity will collapse. The organization was created with the goal of assisting in the promotion of positive relations between individuals of various religions throughout the UK.

The Government had earlier said that it has chosen to revoke the provision of fresh financing for the organization after a member of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) was nominated to the charity’s “core governance structure” last year.

Government minister Felicity Buchan addressed Parliament in response to a pressing inquiry about the circumstances, saying, “As this house will be aware, successive governments have had a longstanding policy of non-engagement with the MCB.”

“The appointment of an MCB member to the core governance structure of a Government-funded organisation therefore poses a reputational risk to Government.”

The IFN brought up several concerns after the appointment, she said, and Secretary of State for Leveling Up, Housing, and Communities Michael Gove “carefully considered” them but decided they were “outweighed by the need to maintain the Government’s policy of non-engagement with the MCB and the risk of compromising the credibility and effectiveness of that policy.”

Given yesterday’s debate in this chamber, is it not incredibly foolish to be closing our primary platform for Muslim-Jewish discourse in the UK at this exact moment?

Sir Stephen Timms
However, Labour MP Sir Stephen Timms criticized the choice and the timing, citing the tumultuous events surrounding a vote on Gaza in the Commons just a day before as particular reasons.

Sir Stephen stated: “Is it not, given the debate in this chamber yesterday, extraordinarily stupid to be shutting down at this precise point our principal vehicle in the UK for Muslim-Jewish dialogue?

“Surely we need more, not to be shutting that down?”

He stated that for almost forty years, the charity has provided a “very important contribution” to the UK.

Theresa Villiers, a former minister for the Conservative Party, called the present state of affairs “regrettable.”

She stated: “I completely understand the importance of not engaging with organisations which have hardline views but surely we can find a compromise to keep the IFN in business? Because they do do some incredibly valuable work in fostering respect and mutual understanding between different faith groups.”

Regarding the funding pullout, Labour MP Barry Sheerman stated, “It’s the wrong time, and the wrong move.”

He pleaded with the minister, saying: “Please, please, for the good of our country and for community relations, will the Government think again?”

Ms Buchan replied: “As I have said, interfaith work is very important and we are funding a number of organisations to do that interfaith work.”

Interfaith communication is “more important than ever,” according to Shadow Communities Minister Liz Twist, in light of recent events like “the war and the violence in Gaza.”

“Interfaith work is hugely important but that does not require us to use taxpayer money in a way that legitimizes the influence of organizations like the MCB,” a government spokesman stated.

“The Inter Faith Network cannot rely on continuous taxpayer funding.

“We regularly remind our partners, including the IFN, of the importance of developing sustainable funding arrangements, rather than relying on taxpayers’ money, which can never be guaranteed.”

A Charity Commission spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that, in line with our guidance, the Inter Faith Network has filed a serious incident report relating to the likelihood that it will need to close due to funding issues.”

The board of the charity will decide whether to close the organization during its meeting on Thursday.

Lord Singh of Wimbledon, a founder member of the Inter Faith Network, expressed his sadness that the funds will be cut off at this particular moment.

Editor of Sikh Messenger and popular presenter of Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Lord Singh, testified before the House of Lords:

 “The Inter Faith Network has done some remarkably good work, particularly in the celebration of the millennium and getting religion in the census and so on…

“There’s been moves to actually discuss the importance of commonality and build on them, and it is sad that this is happening at this particular time.

“And it’s particularly sad that the reason given is that the board contains a member of the Muslim Council of Britain – it is not a proscribed organisation and it is better to have people with different views talking together to move the country forward into respect for one another.”

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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury

Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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