A SYMBOLIC exchange of religious books took part in Clitheroe, as part of a bridge-building exercise between Christian and Islamic communities.

Rev Richard Atkinson described the ceremony as an important step in promoting understanding based on mutual respect.

Mr Sheraz Arshad, chairman of the Clitheroe Mosque project, added; "This is a huge step forward towards strengthening community relations throughout the town."

During the ceremony, outside the Medina Islamic Education Centre, the Koran and the Bible were exchanged. Rev Atkinson, minister at Trinity Methodist and chairman of the Clitheroe Churches in Partnership, said the exchange was the fruit of recent meetings.

"The exchange of the Koran and the Bible was felt to be a crucial statement on the need to develop mutual understanding," said Rev Atkinson. "Dialogue has to be a more effective tool than hatred based on ignorance and we hope this act will be an encouragement to people."

Mr Arshad said he believes the majority of people in Clitheroe have a genuine desire to live and work in harmony and proffer mutual respect to one another.

"They are hindered from doing so through apprehension, fear or mistrust which is often propagated by a wayward minority," said Mr Arshad.