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Interfaith Projects

Volume 504: debated on Tuesday 26 January 2010

4. What funds his Department has allocated to interfaith projects in the last five years; and if he will make a statement. (312951)

Between 2004-05 and 2007-08, my Department granted more than £5 million to interfaith projects through the faith communities capacity building fund. In 2008, under the stewardship of my hon. Friend when he was Under-Secretary of State, we published “Face to Face and Side by Side”. Developed with faith communities, the document set out for the first time a national strategic framework for promoting interfaith activity, supported by some £7.5 million.

I welcome my hon. Friend’s reply. Does he agree that although the fund for preventing violent extremism has over three years been about £70 million, the overall faith pot has been about £15 million? Some of the best anti-radicalisation projects are also interfaith projects. Does he agree that this might be a good time to move some of that PVE funding and use it for more interfaith projects, which does not stigmatise any community?

As ever, my hon. Friend makes a good point. A few months ago, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that another £7.5 million would be put out there to ensure a multi-faith approach to implementing the Prevent strategy. Projects that are PVE-focused do not have to go down the community cohesion route. It is pretty obvious that they ought to go down the Prevent route.

Freedom of religion is one of the pillars of our liberal democracy and society. Does the Minister share my concern about those people—a small minority in the Islamic faith—who condemn as apostates those who leave the Islamic faith, and threaten violence and physical retribution for their doing so?

That is the kind of question that does not require a response. Everybody in the House would agree with that 100 per cent. Hatred of any sort ought not to be tolerated, and anything that moves to the physical would be illegal as well.