Leaders of all the main faith communities in Wales gathered in Cardiff last Thursday for the first meeting of the Interfaith Council. Chaired by Welsh First Minister Rhodri Morgan, the forum was attended by fifteen members representing the Christian Church in Wales, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Baha'i, Evangelical, Free Church, and Sikh communities. The group's main aim is overcome religious and racial intolerance. Following the 11 September attacks in America, there have been an increase in racist incidents in Wales. Muslim leaders investigated a claim that a woman ripped a headscarf from a Muslim schoolgirl in Swansea. They also reported that mosques became the focus of abuse across the country. In March, former Ku Klux Klan member Alan Beshella was jailed for racially harassing a Muslim shopkeeper in Maesteg, south Wales. Anti-racist campaigners have expressed concern about his plans to return to the area on his release from prison. "The Interfaith Council will enable us to harness the spirit of unity and co-operation which was so clearly in evidence after 11 September," said Mr Morgan. "The council will address problems of religious and racial intolerance, but will also provide a vital forum to discuss other issues of common interest which have an impact on religious communities in Wales. It is part of our wider commitment to building a more tolerant society."
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