Community integration has to some extent, always been a bit of a challenge as demographic changes take place. There is a risk, as we take in Syrian refugees that some tensions may arise across our community. We regularly hold tension monitoring meetings with the police and other partners to consider all such events, whether it be racism, homophobia, attacks against disabled people or anything else likely to raise tensions within a community. It is in all our interests to try and prevent that, and report any instances to Sussex Police or other relevant agency or council.
The wider community, given the media hype, might be forgiven for thinking that all Syrian Refugees are Muslim and that all Muslims are a threat to our country. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of Syrian refugees are in fact Christian, and are now linking to Christian Churches and organisations in the UK in general and the Sussex area in particular. The vast majority of those professing Islam as a faith are moderate in their views and pose no threat to the wider community. All refugees, regardless of their faith, are fleeing persecution and danger, and as a country that has a proud heritage of supporting refugees, we as a district council will do our best to make them welcome and assist their integration.
Equalities sits under my portfolio, and is based around the requirements of the Equalities Act which has a large number of what are called 'protected characteristics'.
Inevitably there are things that cause concern in the community, not least, the international and home grown terrorism that we hear about almost daily. Despite the appearance from the media, extremism is not just an Islamic issue, but is across society in many guises. We all have a duty to keep vigilant and report any concerns to the relevant authorities.
The latest version of the 'Prevent Strategy' from the government also places a duty on all schools to train their staff in the prevention of extremism, and to try and encourage young people to develop tolerance and understanding despite sometimes reflecting more diverse opinions at home. This issue will be included in future Ofsted inspections, and school governors should be aware of that significance.
Councillor David Simmons
42 Greenways Crescent
Tel: 01273 464018 (home)
Mobile: 0772 505 4389
Executive Member for Finance and Deputy Leader at Adur District Council
Councillor Angus Dunn
86, Church Green
Tel.: 01273 870067
Mobile: 07760 486552