The Inquiry is proving to have the most multicultural participants in an Inquiry that Britain has ever seen.
Whilst the corporate sector, the Local Authority and the Lawyers will likely be less diverse, we know that the vast amount of Core Participants will be from all over the world, have different faiths and will speak multiple languages.
This week at the Inquiry, Crew Manager Jamal Stern took the stand. Before he began giving evidence, Richard Millett QC offered his apologies to Firefighter Stern as he was about to be presented a Quran which was missing it’s cover. Might I add that no other witness has been presented a underprepared Holy Book.
Firefighter Stern decided to make his affirmation anyway.
After 13 months of the phrases ‘Institutional’ and ‘Cultural Indifference’, how was the Inquiry underprepared for it’s first Muslim witness? When we return from the summer break, will the Inquiry have remembered that they need to obtain a Quran with a cover, or will this be forgotten too? Will the Ethiopian Orthodox witnesses who will be due to take the stand later this year be presented with the correct Holy book?
It may seem like a small oversight, but it’s incredibly reflective of how those of other religions are treated on a daily basis within this Country – as well as being reflective of the way that certain witnesses who are not from the UK have been treated since the 14th June 2017.
This can be seen with the Home Office’s decisions to not extend Visas to immediate relatives of those that died at Grenfell Tower, and not having Visas ready for burials and the commemorative hearings, which some family members had to miss.
I hope that with the additional ‘diverse’ panel members chosen to join Phase Two, this habit will be broken. But as we know, if you have little or no experience in dealing with BAME individuals and communities, these oversights will only continue to happen.
By Tasha Brade (J4G Campaigner)