In the voluntary question on religion
in the 2001 decennial census 59.1% of the city's population described
themselves as Christian, 27% No Religion, and 8.9% did not answer
the question. The Jewish and Muslim figures were as follows: Jews
1.4% and Muslims 1.5%.
So Jews and Muslims are tiny minorities
in the city, together not amounting to more than 3% of the population.
Yet 2.9% is equal to about 7,000 people, and it is possible that
the 35.9% of the population who answered No Religion or who chose
not to answer the question includes some who might be described
as cultural Jews and Muslims or secular Jews and Muslims.
It would not be surprising if Jews
and Muslims in our city look at the brutal conflict in Israel /
Palestine and feel a close empathy with the plight of their co-religionists.
But as British citizens we all need to understand the conflict
and take a view about how it can be resolved according to principles
of democracy and justice, because as the bombings in London on
7th July 2005 demonstrate the conflict has spilled over into our
own society, and the latest war between Israel and
Hezbollah will have inevitably increased the likelihood of more
The city also has quite an active
branch of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and a recent peace
demo on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict has provoked a public debate
because of what has been seen as a heavy-handed police presence
with about 100 police officers mobilised to police a demo of about
Likewise the accusation of the
police superintendant that the demo was a deliberate provocation
to the city's Jewish community has caused yet more controversy.
Then there is the case of Omar
Deghayes, a resident of Saltdean, and a detainee at Guantanamo
Finally, the discovery that the
young mother with triplet babies, who made national news when she
was evacuated from Lebanon at the start of the war, is a city resident,
has further brought it home to us that we live in a global village,
and that we can't and should not ignore what's going on in the
British citizens need in their
own self-interests, as well as in the name of democratic principle,
to take a view about the nature of British foreign policy on the