By MICHAEL GREEN
East London has been the first stop for many of Britain's immigrant groups and was once the center of Jewish life in the country, the landing site for thousands who arrived from Europe in the first half of the 20th century before they migrated to the more affluent north London and other parts of the country.
Rabbi David Hulbert believes that the unique ethnic balance of the London borough of Redbridge, on the border between east London and Essex, is well-suited to fostering interfaith relationships.
"When people think of east London, they think of poverty and the rag trade where their grandparents lived, but Redbridge is a world away. It's an area of Britain with a good balance of Jews, Christians and Muslims. Other places have an asymmetry - for example, [the northern cities of] Bradford and Leeds, where there are many Muslims and few Jews, or northwest London, where there is a very high Jewish population."
According to Hussein Zmanay, "the Three Faiths Forum is good for peace between Muslims, Christians and Jews. The earth doesn't belong to us, it belongs to Allah. He created us. So why do we have to fight? We have got to live together in harmony."
The United Kingdom has the fifth-largest Jewish population in the world, standing at 280,000. After Christianity, Islam is the second-largest faith community in the country, numbering around two million people with roots mainly in Bangladesh and Pakistan. Muslims account for over three percent of the total British population.
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