Celebrating Strength in Working Together, Cherishing Diversity and Unity
The evening celebrated the work of the late MP Jo Cox who was brutally murdered in a terrorist attack last year just days before the Brexit Referendum. In his welcome address, Harun Khan, the Secretary General of the MCB spoke about the theme for the evening, ‘More in common’, and about how “in this current political climate, it is important we come together to affirm our unity”.
Speaking ahead of the upcoming election, he said, “Together with fellow Britons, Muslims will be looking for true leadership that unites our country during this time of uncertain transition and seek to represent all British people, and certainly not scapegoat some.
When it comes to public policy, we Muslims seem to be boxed into the narrative of bombs, beards and burkhas. Instead, we Muslims insist that our story is one of faith, freedom and fairness.
It is from our faith where we are obliged to know one another and help one another. In the Qur’an, we understand that we live in a plural world when God tells us that he has made mankind into “nations and tribes so that they may come to know one another”.
Brendan Cox, the husband of the late Jo Cox said, “We have far too many opportunities to celebrate what we have in common. We long for that feeling of togetherness, of National unity”. He went on to say, “Those extremists seeking division and hate come from every background” and spoke about the need to confront division and hatred. “We need to stand up for values of tolerance, even when it’s uncomfortable for us to do so”. He also spoke about how whilst the threat of all forms of extremism is on the rise, we need a firm resolution to work together to combat it.
Yasmin Qureshi MP paid tribute to Jo Cox, and spoke about the dangers of hateful ideologies and what it leads to, giving an example of how “years of hatred is what leads to events like Srebrenica”, where 8000 Muslim men and boys were massacred in a UN protected safe zone in 1995. She spoke about the need to challenge racism, Islamophobia, misogyny and other forms of hate, even words from friends, family and neighbours. Commenting on UKIP’s latest announcement of a proposed ban on burkhas, she said UKIP has been condemned by all political parties and that “just goes to show that we have more in common than that which divides us”.
Rt Hon. Dominic Grieve QC MP, who chaired the Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life, spoke about how “overwhelmingly positive” he found the experience and said “it’s made me realise how much had changed in 10 years and how much the dialogue had opened”. He went on to say “those fearing an apocalypse, simply does not match the reality of Muslims”. He shared an optimistic outlook for British Muslims and fellow Britons and said, “we share this great land together. We have to all work together for its future”.
Presenting Partner, Islamic Relief’s UK Director, Imran Madden said: “Islamic Relief would not be able to accomplish the life-saving and life-changing work we do worldwide without the generous support of the British Muslim community. UK Muslims donated over £100 million last year which is testament to their strong faith, hard work and generosity – all of which embodies the true spirit of Islam.
He continued, “As Ramadan approaches, we are inspired by our faith to reach out, help and work with everyone, regardless of race, religion or gender, and this has always been a guiding principle of Islamic Relief in its work. By working together, with organisations like the MCB, Muslims can achieve more for the greater good of society and the wider world and be a beacon of hope in uncertain times.”