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Eastbourne celebrates UN Diversity & Tolerance Day

Ansar Ahmed Ullah:

In the true spirit of United Nations, people representing different races and religions joined as one to celebrate the diverse nature of Eastbourne’s community in the Town Hall this week.   The event, organised by the United Nations Association (UNA) Eastbourne on 10 April, came about in response to the murder of 51 innocent civilians in Christchurch, New Zealand.  It was also organised in support of the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations and in remembrance of the 25th Anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.

The celebration of diversity was an event to hear a number of speakers talk about the importance of respecting other races and religions and recognise how we all gain by living in a diverse community.  Diversity was described by many as making life colourful and interesting.

The event was Chaired by Ian Elgie, Chairman of UNA Eastbourne and organised by Mozmil Hussain, Member of UNA London and Eastbourne committee. UNA Chair introduced the event by talking about the beginnings of the UNAOC. The world has witnessed many terrorist attacks over the last 20 years both committed against the Muslim population and against the Western populations.  The importance of building bridges and fostering greater understanding between different ethnicities and faiths should not be underestimated

But the event was a joyous affair and not one for dwelling on the problems of terrorism and conflict.  Guests speakers were Deputy Mayor of Eastbourne Cllr Kathy Ballard, Lucette Davis, Secretary, UNA Eastbourne, Dr Talib Durgahee, Chair of Eastbourne Mosque, Ray Dadswell, former Chaplain to the University of Sussex), Jane Midwinter, principal partner of Education, Carol Mills from Eastbourne People Assembly, Janelle Rokow and Fatema Kumar. Mayor Kathy Ballard said, ‘It’s a testament to Eastbourne that we have so many diverse cultures represented here. I want to thank Mozmil Hussain who has doen a lot of work around Mother Tongue Monument which is for everyone to celebrate diversity in this town. This is very exciting initiative for the whole community.’

Music was performed by by David Stopp and by Ruth and Robin Foster, and food provided by the Spice Garden Restaurant.

At the end of the evening a candlelit ceremony with a minute’s silence was held on the steps of the Town Hall to remember those killed in New Zealand and in remembrance of the Rwandan Genocide

Also, in attendance were Cllr Gous Choudhury. MA Kadir, General Secretary of International Mother Language Monument Sussex, Gary and Deborah Muston, Salvation Army, Sally Boys, Friends of Earth, John Meakins World Poetry International, Dr Isaac Suleman, Anwar Miah, Mr and Mrs Iftikhar Malik Sheriff Kumar and many more from the Muslim community.