Uniting in Birmingham’s Diversity

Council leader Ian Ward talks about the importance of unity across communities and faiths:

Yesterday evening I had the honour of sharing Iftar with hundreds of people from across Birmingham at the Ramadan Tent Project’s Open Iftar, hosted at Villa Park.

This brilliant event was the perfect representation of our great, diverse and united city. I have long said that our city’s greatest strength is the fact that we are a welcoming home to people and communities from across the world.

For centuries people have come here seeking work and a better future for their families. Name a nationality, a language or a religion and you’ll find it here in Birmingham.

That's part of what makes our city so great, but while diversity is a wonderful thing, we must work to ensure that our communities don’t exist separately from each other, unaware of each other’s faiths, beliefs, values, traditions and cultures.

Open Iftar brought together people from all walks of life yesterday evening as we gathered to mark this most special month for Muslims across Birmingham, and across the world. From the dawn of civilisation, humans have come together to share food, and to this day the sharing of a meal remains intrinsic to the Muslim faith, and to all other cultures and faiths worldwide.

This is a particularly special time for many faiths. For Jews, Passover began yesterday evening and will last until the evening of the 13th, for Sikhs, Vaisakhi is just over a week away, and of course Christians will be marking Easter over the coming days.

Whether you belong to one of these faiths, to a different faith, or to none at all, the coming days offer many of us the chance to take a break and to spend time with loved ones, or in our communities.

For each of the faiths that are marking holidays at this time of year, the concepts of community, of sharing, and of inclusiveness are hugely important. The message shared at yesterday evening’s Iftar was that through the sharing of a meal, strangers can become friends, and for me this was a powerful reminder of the importance of uniting in our diversity, in celebrating our differences, and sharing what is important to ourselves with our friends and neighbours.

So, however you are spending the coming days, remember the many things that unite us as Brummies, and be inspired to apply the values of inclusiveness, of community, and of sharing, to your everyday lives. Together, we can build a stronger and more united city for us all to live in.

This blog was posted on 6 April 2023.

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