There is mounting anger from some senior figures at the Town Hall over the way in which Muslim community leaders were excluded from any formal role in Sunday’s Remembrance Service at Croydon Minster.
The absence was despite recent assurances given by the leader of the council, Tony Newman.
There were representatives of the Muslim communities attending the service and at the wreath-laying at the War Memorial on Katharine Street on Sunday.
But while someone from the Church of England, the Roman Catholic church, the Hindu community and even the Croydon youth council were present at the Minster to say a few words or offer a prayer, Jews and Muslims were not included in that part of the annual service.
The Remembrance Sunday service is one of the biggest civic events of the year, and is organised through chief exec Jo Negrini’s office by Lea Goddard, the council’s head of democratic services. It is suggested that this exclusion has happened on Remembrance Sunday for at least the past two years. As explanation, Negrini has said previously that there is not enough time in hour-long the service to include representatives of all communities.
“When you consider that Muslims were among this country’s heroes in the First and Second World Wars and some gave their lives, it seems a bit cheap that Jo Negrini can’t manage a minute or so in the service for their sacrifice to be remembered by their own community,” a Katharine Street source said today.
It was previously the practice to include someone from Jewish and Muslim communities in the service. Inside Croydon understands that the Mayor of Croydon, Toni Letts, explicitly requested council officials to include a Muslim representative in this year’s service, following complaints 12 months ago.
Croydon is supposed to be the most ethnically diverse of London’s boroughs, and in answer to a question at a council meeting last month about including the Muslim community in the service, Newman said it was, “Absolutely the right thing to do.”
Responding to Councillor Andrew Pelling, who highlighted that 400,000 Muslims had fought in British and Commonwealth forces in the First World War, Newman said, “We have a duty to reflect the wonderful diversity in this borough, and the contributions people of all religious backgrounds and none have made to the armed forces.”
No one from the Croydon Mosque was available for comment when approached this week. A spokesperson for the Croydon Synagogue in Shirley advised that their rabbi had been unwell and was unable to attend.
Inside Croydon asked Negrini for a copy of the official invitation list and order of service, but she has not replied.
Negrini was in attendance at Sunday’s service, wearing a pair of training shoes. Perhaps the £185,000 a year chief executive was in a hurry to get somewhere afterwards.
In common with Remembrance Services organised across the country each year, Croydon’s church service is ecumenical and people of all faiths are invited to attend in the congregation. The Croydon Minster service follows the recommendations and protocols laid out by the Royal British Legion, which takes account of different church and religious practices and the military presence at the solemn event.
Separately, there is a parade and laying of wreaths at the war memorial outside the Town Hall, which is open to representatives from all faith groups, as well as being attended by local politicians, MPs and various other figures from public life.
Inside Croydon understands that there were complaints to the CEO last November, as well as the request from the Mayor, though Negrini has not done anything to rectify the situation.
Our Katharine Street source said, “Those complaints were more than a year ago now.
“So what’s Negrini’s excuse this time?”
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