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Inside my local mosque there are people just like you and me


Just before Christmas I went to meet people at the Ishan Mosque in Chapelfield East which was the first mosque in the UK to be set up by British converts to Islam.  Now after 40 years, it has more than 200 men, women and children who worship there, alongside muslims from around the world.

When we speak of the muslim community it's often in terms of people who have lived in other countries or been brought up in a radically different culture. But in Norwich there's a somewhat different history.

As someone who loves history I know Norwich has a long history of welcoming immigrants. In the late 16th century 'Strangers' as they were known made up a third of the population.

But then, like now, it could also be the cause of friction. In 1567 Major Thomas Whall accused the incomers of taking local jobs. He said 'they sucked the living away from the English.'  It sounds to me he would have had a lot in common with UKIP. But what history really shows us is how well these people integrated into the city and the benefit they brought to the city.
Speaking to muslims at The Ishan Mosque it becomes clear their problems are ones shared by all of us.  Marguerita complained about, "the terrible lack of parking nearby especially as the mosque has a number of members with a disability."

Karim, an engineer, was concerned, "many of the young people I know are keen to work, but unable to find a job. There also needs to be more help for people trying to start their own business.”Mohammed felt that because of extremists and the conflict in the Middle East "people see me as a muslim first. We have to get over that, just to get to know each other."

Meeting people from different faiths only goes to show just how similar we are. We all share the same concerns, the same worries and the same difficulties in dealing with day to day living.

It's these characteristics, our very sameness, we need to focus on, if we're to create the kind of country we all want to live in. It's these values that allowed my father to integrate into life here in the UK and they're values that really go to the heart of what my party stands for.

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