Diversity and inclusion: The UK's perspective on religious expression and ethnic heritage

20 Sep 2023 07:35am
British High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, Ailsa Terry exclusively with Sinar. Picture by RAFIQ REDZUAN
British High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, Ailsa Terry exclusively with Sinar. Picture by RAFIQ REDZUAN

KUALA LUMPUR — The United Kingdom, known for its rich tapestry of diverse communities is shedding light on its inclusive approach towards religious expression and ethnic heritage.

British High Commissioner in Kuala Lumpur, Ailsa Terry in an exclusive interview with Sinar recently shared her insights into the nation's stance on these matters, which includes emphasising individual freedom and respect for diversity.

She said in the UK, the presence of well-established communities representing various religions is a testament to the country's multicultural landscape.

“One remarkable aspect of this diversity is the widespread acceptance of religious attire, including the hijab, worn by young women in schools across the country.

“This is not a topic of controversy but rather a manifestation of the UK's belief in individual choice and freedom. The paramount principle is that women should be free to wear what they choose and practise their faith as they see fit.

“The UK government has no intention of intervening or legislating in this regard; instead, it upholds the values of personal choice and mutual respect,” she elaborated.

She also said it's important to note that the discussion surrounding diversity in the UK encompasses not only British Muslims but also various ethnic communities.

In fact, she added that the challenges faced by these communities often relate more to their ethnic heritage than their religious beliefs.

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“The UK government is dedicated to ensuring equal opportunities for all citizens, particularly in education and the workplace.

“Continuous improvement is a shared goal among nations, and the UK is no exception. Various organisations within the country work tirelessly to address the specific needs of British Muslims.

“Furthermore, the UK is proud to have British Muslims serving in prominent roles, both in government and the private sector. They are integral to the nation's diverse landscape and contribute significantly to various aspects of British life,” she explained.

On top of that, she added that in the UK, British Muslims are not seen as a separate community but as an integral part of the broader society, within social circles, distinctions based on religion or ethnicity are not commonly made.

“This perspective is also shared by many British diplomats, who consider diversity to be a source of strength and enrichment for the nation,” she added.

In recent milestones, she also explained that the UK has appointed its first British Muslim Head of Mission in Yemen and its first British Muslim Consul General in Toronto.

These groundbreaking achievements underscore the UK's unwavering commitment to inclusivity and diversity in all facets of British life.