SHAFAQNA -Â Greater Manchesterâ€™s Muslim Jewish Forum is celebrating a decade of bringing people from the two faiths together.
Started in 2005, the group holds social events and trips abroad for Jews and Muslims to meet and get to know each other.
Formed by thenÂ Cheetham Hill councillor Afzal Khan, now an MEP in Brussels, it has grown from just 10 members to over 500.
Members have holidayed in Spain, Morocco and Croatia together and made an emotional pilgrimage to Auschwitz.
Other regular events include picnics, faith discussions and visits to mosques and synagogues.
Members say although events in the Middle East have sometimes affected attendance, overall the group has helped Muslims and Jews realise how much they have in common.
Co-Chair Heather Fletcher said: â€œA lot of people have said â€˜what do we want to mix with Jews for, or Muslims forâ€™. â€œWeâ€™ve been saying, they are not that different – come along and find out.
â€œWe can talk about the Middle East until weâ€™re blue in the face and never solve it – but we can talk about Manchester and try to solve things here.
â€œManchester is the one thing we all have in common – along with a love of food and talking about what football teams we support.
â€œMixing together and getting to know each other is the best way to achieve community cohesion.
â€œIt is ignorance and fear which causes suspicion and intolerance but understanding and bonding which promotes peace and harmony.â€
To celebrate their ten year anniversary, the Federation held a dinner at Manchester Town Hall attended by leaders from both the Muslim and Jewish faiths.
Forum co-chair Mohammed Amin said: â€œGreater Manchester has the second largest Jewish community in the country and one of the largest Muslim communities.
â€œThese communities have numerous interests in common – one of the first things the Forum does is make it easier for both communities to campaign on these issues of mutual interests.
â€œBut weâ€™ve gone far beyond that in the intervening years.
â€œWeâ€™ve gone from being strangers to becoming friends and made it normal for Muslims and Jews to have contact with each other.â€