New king appears at ease as figurehead of multi-faith UK

11 September 2022

 

In the huge Baitul Futuh mosque in south London, Rafiq Hayat, head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community organisation, predicted a seamless transition in relations with¬†Charles III. “Our loyalty to the king will be just as strong as it was to her majesty the queen,” he told AFP. Hayat argued Charles has “a great relationship with the Muslim world”, noting he had praised the teachings of Islam and recited Koranic verses in the past. “I think he feels that Islam is very much sitting comfortably with Christianity and other world faiths,” he said.

On Friday, the new monarch will receive representatives of the main religions practised in Britain at Buckingham Palace, in another sign of his intent to reach out beyond the Christian faith groups. The king brought forward the audience in order to allow Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis to be able to return home in time for the Jewish Sabbath, which starts Friday at 17:59GMT. A source close to the Chief Rabbi told BBC News the decision to bring the event forward was an “amazing gesture of respect and thoughtfulness”.

Ian Bradley, theology professor at the University of St Andrews, said the British monarch’s role is “to bind the nation together in all sorts of ways but not the least in terms of faith”. And that does not need to be restricted to Christianity, he said, noting some of the strongest supporters of monarchy belong to minority faiths in Britain. Rami Ranger, president of the British Sikh Association, said the late queen gave his community “an immense sense of security”. “She was above party politics and could unite the nation regardless of race, religion and colour,” he added.

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