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Issue 286, Friday 22 February 2013 - 12 Rabi' al-Akhar 1434

Muslim prayers left Brighton councillors concerned and baffled

By Safaa Samrrah

Briton and Hove’s city cllr Christina Summers was baffled by Muslim prayer

Mayor of Brighton and Hove City said he was disappointed at the reaction of many of the council members after Muslim prayers were read before a town hall meeting.

The event, which took place on December 18, sparked mixed reactions throughout the council after the Mayor invited religious leaders from other faiths to lead council prayers.

“I’m surprised and disappointed at the negative responses of Councillor [Christina] Summers and other councillors…Brighton and Hove is a diverse city and one of my aims as Mayor is to celebrate this diversity while bringing the cities faiths closer together,” Bill Randall said.

However Summers, an independent councillor who was expelled from the Green group earlier this year after voting against supporting same-sex marriage, said: “To think it’s against diversity is nonsense. Prayers are not part of proceedings – councillors do not have to attend. As far as I’m aware there are no Muslim or Arabic-speaking councillors, so I just wonder what the point was.”

She later tweeted: “Baffled & concerned that Muslim prayers from the Koran were sung in Arabic at Thursday’s Full Council. How many B&H cllrs are Muslim anyway?”

Some have questioned her commitment to diversity in the city, which according to most recent census figures, has over 6,000 Muslims currently living in the city.

Conservative Councillor Dawn Barnett said: “I believe there should be prayers that everyone can understand before a council meeting but I thought that was too much. Everybody seemed a bit overwhelmed by it.”

Labour Councillor Warren Morgan said: “When Councillor Summers voted against my motion supporting equal marriage, I said that although we totally disagreed with her views, we should respect her right to hold them as they were based on her faith. It is disappointing therefore that she is unwilling to accept or tolerate other faiths and beliefs, and it may be time to question whether she should remain a councillor in our diverse and inclusive city.”

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