"I helped set up a sort of partnership of mosques and churches to promote the understanding and celebration of religion and the community. "
‘Building Bridges Burnley’
Way back in 1968, the government set up a Race Relations Board. It was actually set up in 1965 but it had very few powers. But in 1968, there was a good piece of legislation. The late Mark Bonham Carter, who was later, elevated to the House of Lords, he was chairman and he came to Manchester and invited me to become a member of the Race Relations Board in 1969 because at that time I was chairman of the National Federation of Pakistani Associations all over the UK, and he must have read about me in the papers. I was a member of the Race Relations Board, which had a major impact on changing the attitudes of people in society. I worked for several years on the national scene - part of the work included adjudicating different cases of discrimination that were investigated by officers.
Later on, I was still teaching at Barden High School where I remained until 1984 when I left education. In the same period, I was also vice chairman of the local Racial Equality Council which covered Burnley and Pendle. I remained there for 20 years until I was appointed director of the Blackburn Racial Equality Council. My major piece of work outside my employment was racial equality and community relations. This is something which I’m very pleased with, and proud of; promoting community cohesion and respect to overcome differences. I feel that we will be a far better world if we look at the positive side, avoiding negatives and differences, and avoiding conflict and the use of weapons. I was also elected as secretary for the Lancashire Council of Mosques which we formed in 1990. I was the secretary for ten years until I retired and became the first Asian Mayor of Burnley.
During this period I helped set up a sort of partnership of mosques and churches to promote the understanding and celebration of religion and the community. It has now become known as ‘Building Bridges Burnley’ and grown from strength to strength as it brings together people from all communities to appreciate and visit each other’s places of worship. So it’s quite fascinating that what we want to see happening in the whole world, it is happening in Burnley.