|Understanding the True Traditions of Islam |
Understanding the True Traditions of Islam
Text of a letter from British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, read by the deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, at the launch of Islam Awareness Week, in the House of Commons, London, Monday 5 November 2001. Source: FCO, London.
I am very sorry that, due to prior commitments, I am unable to attend the launch of Islam Awareness Week. I am pleased however, that the Deputy Prime Minister is able to represent the Government at your launch and has agreed to read. out this message of support today. I am also pleased to learn that your reception is being hosted by the MPs and Peers of the Muslim Faith Mohammad Sarwar MP, Khalid Mahmood MP, Lord Ahmed, Baroness Uddin and Lord Patel.
I believe the importance of Islam Awareness Week has never been greater. The terrible events of 11 September have made it more vital than ever that ignorance about this great faith is tackled and that the understanding of the true traditions of Islam - its beauty, its wisdom and compassion - is increased among Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
The whole world including the overwhelming majority of decent Muslims, united in shock and revulsion at the attacks in the United States. Muslims in Britain and around the world joined in the condemnations of these atrocities. They made it clear that such acts are wholly contrary to the proper principles of the Koran and the Islamic faith. It is also important to remember that many Muslims lost their lives in these attacks.
We cannot and should not allow anyone to equate the actions of a group of terrorists with the peaceful and tolerant religion of Islam. The horrific attack in America was not the work of Islamic terrorists. It was the work of terrorists, pure and simple. We must not honour them with a religious justification, or a badge of faith.
I am aware that British Muslims are concerned that in these testing times they may face an increase in racist attacks or hate crimes. The Government has made it clear to the police that protecting those under threat or attack is an absolute priority and I know that the Home Secretary continues to monitor this closely. It is important that we remain vigilant against those elements in society who see an opportunity to stir up tensions in our communities. We will stand firm together against them.
I also congratulate the Islamic Society of Britain in making Islam Awareness Week an annual event. Islamic art, science and philosophy have enriched our lives in so many ways. And, of course, British Muslims have contributed across the board to our politics, economic prosperity and cultural life. This contribution must be recognised and celebrated.
I am proud that Britain is a multi-cultural, multi-faith country. I believe that Britain's diversity is very much its strength. Only by making the most of the talents of everyone in our country will Britain continue to be a successful nation. I can promise the Government will continue to work with the Muslim community to break down barriers and to ensure that everyone can play a full part in creating a country of which we can all be proud.
With best wishes for a successful Islam Awareness Week.