‘A city united behind the message of common humanity’

Suleman Nagdi

Suleman Nagdi MBE DLThe Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO) Leicester has been the largest Muslim voluntary association in the city for the last twenty-five years. In this short article, Suleman Nagdi, the FMO’s longstanding PR officer, offers his thoughts on the role played by Black Minority Ethnic (BME) people and organisations in the city and outlines what he sees as the city’s main strengths.

This article is one of a series on faith and politics in Leicester and a response to Public Spirit’s profile of Leicester.

Get a pdf of this article here

It is well documented that Leicester is the greatest multi-cultural city in Britain, where no ethnic or religious community is in the majority.[1] We in Leicester are immensely proud of the diversity of our local population and also of how strongly the various communities in Leicester have worked collectively in the espousal of the message of peace and community cohesion for many years.

Members of BME communities in Leicester play a key role in the operation of British society, performing various duties in professional capacities in the political, health, education and business sectors for the betterment of our country.

My experiences of work in the European mainland highlights the high regard in which Leicester is held by those who do not enjoy the same benefits of community cohesion as we do. I have been consulted on countless occasions by colleagues in mainland Europe about how they can follow Leicester’s example as a torchbearer for cordial community relations.

The ‘Golden Mile’ in Belgrave, Leicester, during the annual Diwali celebrations. The celebrations in Leicester are renowned not only in Britain but worldwide.

That we as a city are held in such high regard by other cities in mainland Europe is something that we must be immensely proud of and export through the possible creation of an inter-faith international centre of excellence. Credit for this surely must go to all those organisations and individuals who have over the past few decades dedicated their lives to the betterment of Leicester including various statutory and non-statutory bodies.

The unity of this city has been emphasised on countless occasions but I would like to cite the visit of the English Defence League in October 2010 as an example of our city’s unique resilience to hate. The EDL visited Leicester in the hope that they could expose what they mistakenly believed to be fragile community relations.

What they found was, in the starkest and most heartening terms, a city that was united behind the message of common humanity and peace, a stance that has been painstakingly built over years of tireless work between the various faith and non-faith based communities in Leicester. The organising of events as part of ‘We are One Leicester’, the festival held on the 10th October as a direct response to the EDL’s march, was truly heart warming.

Suleman Nagdi MBE DL has been a committed volunteer and an advocate in the community for over 25 years. Suleman has worked on many diverse issues at regional, national and international level, notably as spokesperson and Public Relations Officer of the Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO) Leicestershire. He was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in 2002 in recognition for his long years of service to local communities relating to regional and national issues and in 2008 he was appointed as Her Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenant.

[1] As noted in the profile accompanying this article, outside of London, only Slough and Luton match Leicester for ethnic and religious diversity.

The image of Belgrave Road is included courtesy of Kate Jewell and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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