Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Second day of our week-long exhibition in Highcross for Inter Faith Week.

Last time we were in this spot, our ten banners were arranged “circle the wagons” style. That seemed good enough for a while, but palled after a bit – the arrangement appeared somewhat unstable, somewhat shabby, especially when viewed from above. This time I’ve partly followed the style we adopted last year, of putting the banners back-to-back, though this time they’re laid out in a straight line. The display is bookended by the “generic” banners for Leicester Council of Faiths itself, with Leicester University’s "Mapping Faith and Place in Leicester" and "Leicester Faith Trail" behind them.

As regards the individual banners for our faith community members, they're set back to back so that the visitor, approaching from one direction, sees the four Abrahamic religions of Middle Eastern origin in historical order (Jews, Christians, Muslims, Bahá'ís).

Approaching from the other direction, the visitor sees the four Dharmic religions, of Indian origin in historical order (Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs).

First on this morning, John Catt (Leicester Secular Society) and Kartar Singh (Near Neighbours project). They're in the photo at the top of this post. They were joined by Scott MacDonald (Leicester Bahá'ís) shortly after I'd left.

I arrive on the stall just before 1400 to do a couple of hours myself. Dr Ruth Young (Senior Lecturer in Archaeology and Director of Distance Learning Strategy at the University of Leicester School of Archaeology and Ancient History) is photographed above, handing over to Sheila Markham (Leicester Hebrew Congregation). Sheila also took part in the philosophy panel at St Paul's yesterday, so I get a bit more info about how that went.

In the middle of the afternoon we receive a visit from Paresh Solanki of the Inter Faith Network of the UK. I'm hoping for better coverage of our Inter Faith Week activities in the national report than we received in last year's. Paresh and Sheila are pictured below.

Shortly after 1600 I leave the exhibition in the evidently capable hands of Billy Dedat and Ravinder Kaur. This is the first time that either of them have taken part in this event, the first time that I've met either of them - and the first time they've met each other. Their involvement together here today is serendipitous. Billy is Chair of the Leicestershire branch of the Association of Muslim Police and is a member of Leicestershire Police's Prevent Engagement Team, while Ravinder works for Leicestershire County Council's project LWA: Living Without Abuse. They're quickly talking about ways in which they can work together after this event. They're shown together in the photo below (Billy on the left, Ravinder on the right).

My immediate task now is to get a couple of banners and some of our free literature out to Leicestershire Police HQ in Enderby, where our Faith in Family seminar is taking place this evening. What with phone batteries running out, parking in the wrong street etc it's not quite as smooth a procedure as I'd have hoped. Eventually, Fayyaz Suleman (Vice Chair of Leicester Council of Faiths) swings by Pilgrim House to pick up the stuff and get ti to the venue on time.

I'm not attending the seminar myself. We've had no one come forward to fill the Tuesday evening slot and we can't leave the exhibition unattended during opening hours at Highcross, so I'm on duty here for a couple of quiet hours.

After Highcross closes, I head back to Pilgrim House and wait for Sughra Ahmed to drop off the banners and literature, since I'll need to use them very early tomorrow. She brings them back at 2145 - with some nice munchies left over from the seminar.

Here are some of the things that visitors and volunteers have written on the labels and hung on our little white tree today:
The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens
Hate creates hate, love creates love. May love concure [sic] over hate
It's only when we believe we can't make a difference ... will humanity end!
Multiculturality - more of it please!
For all those who are not going to get better
It's your actions that define who you are and not what labels you give yourself
I wish my grandad gets healing from spirits! Love, Tara, Sarita, Simren, Bobby xxx
God bless everyone at Christmas
I wish the peace everywhere around the world
Mutual respect and appreciation
The unexamined life is not worth living

I'd bought a set of mixed coloured Sharpies for people to use when writing on these labels. I left them in the OMG mug on the table at our display overnight. Sometime between the end of last night and the start today, someone nicked them. I can only hope that some underprivileged person will be getting a nice set of Sharpies for Christmas.

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