British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw urged European leaders to learn more about the Islamic religion and “protect the rights of every citizen irrespective of their faith and creed,” Khaleej Times reported.Reply
Addressing the Muslim News Awards for Excellence ceremony in London, Straw said a peaceful co-existence of religion and modernity is essential for the future of Europe, warning that the growing tendency to attack religion and religious people will lead to anachronism.
Straw also challenged the secular credentials of the West. “It is wrong to assume that 'the West', including Europe, is essentially secular in nature…. the story of Europe is not a simple, linear one of secular values steadily pushing out and eroding religious ones. Rather the European experience is one of an accommodation between faith and modernity. And it is the future of Europe too,” he said.
Straw also suggested that Islam could be singled out as a target of attack because it is a new religion in Europe.
“There have been Muslim communities in Europe for centuries,” said Straw. “But it is true that in recent decades those communities have grown in size and that Islam is now the fastest growing religion here. Another reason might be the feeling that many people seem to have that Muslims are in some way more religious than followers of other faiths. Again, I think it is probably undeniable that for most of the Muslims whom I know their faith is more obviously apparent in their daily actions and rituals than it is in the daily lives of the majority of people in Britain.”
Straw also denounced the decision by some European newspapers to publish the Danish cartoons satirizing Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) by claiming the right to freedom of expression.
“I said at the time that the cartoons were reprinted in Europe — though not here in the United Kingdom — that doing so was needlessly insensitive and disrespectful,” said Straw. “The right to freedom of expression is a broad one and something which this country has long held dear… But the existence of such a right does not mean that it is right — morally right, politically right, socially right — to exercise that freedom without regard to the feelings of others."
“A large number of Muslims in this country were upset by those cartoons being reprinted across Europe and at their deeply held beliefs being insulted. They expressed their hurt and outrage but did so in a way which epitomised the learned, peaceful religion of Islam. In doing so they were not being 'unreasonable' or 'un-European'. They were not threatening anyone's values.”
Straw also hailed the contributions of Muslims to the British society, especially in the filed of economics, education, sport and culture.
He awarded Mustapha Shafayat, the first British batsman to score a double-century in an under-19 test cricket match against India, London Mayor Ken Livingstone for building dialogue between the West and the Islamic world, and Channel Four newsreader Jon Snow for his in-depth coverage of the Muslim world.
The British Foreign Secretary also awarded Cynthia Capey, a pensioner who has spent the last 50 years promoting understanding between Muslims, Christians and Jews in Suffolk, and Mazhar Butt, who has turned his family shop in Nottingham into a multi-million pound business supplying naan bread to supermarkets.
Other winners included human rights lawyer Muddassar Arani, Manchester health charity Mediconcern, and Cardiff University academic Professor Saghir Akhtar
03-31-2006, 09:00 AM
Its nice to see him trying to do a good service for muslims, but i dont think he is the right person to do such a thing. Where are all the 'muslim' leaders? why aren't they doing it? why should we as muslims in europe or wherever have to wait for a non-muslim to speak in our name? why can't we get our so-called 'religious leaders' to speak for us? disgusting, thats what it is. I would depose the lot of them if i had my way.
May Allah guide them
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