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Articles
Eid-ul-Fitr celebrated at Foreign & Commonwealth Office

By Dr. Mozammel Haque

Tomorrow, Sunday will be the Remembrance Day when the sacrifice that Muslims made in the First and Second World Wars will be remembered. "Four Victoria Crosses were won by soldiers who came from what is now Pakistan,” said the British Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Margaret Beckett, MP, while welcoming the British Muslim Communities at the Eid-ul-Fitr Celebration at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), on Thursday, the 9th of November, 2006. She also said, "This coming Sunday will be Remembrance Day. The sacrifice that Muslims made in those two World Wars is too often   overlooked.”

 

Speaking about the two World Wars, the British Foreign Secretary said, "Over 1.4 million Indian soldiers served in the first war - about a quarter of them Muslim. In 1940 the British government donated £100,000 to build the first purpose built mosque in London - to honour the memory of those who were killed. In the Second World War even more Indian soldiers, two and a half million, joined up. And again many were Muslim - four Victoria Crosses were won by soldiers who came from what is now Pakistan.”

 

"It is a powerful reminder that the people from every section of our society fought and died for the freedom and rights that we all enjoy in this country. Of course, there will be always a debate over aspects of our shared society. That is one of the tenets of democracy,” said Beckett.

 

Talking about the recent killings of Palestinians by the Israelis in Gaza Strips, the British Foreign Secretary expressed her deep concern over mounting casualties and civilian suffering in Gaza Strips. She said, "I know that, though this is a celebration, at the forefront of many of your minds will be the appalling incident in the Bayt Hanun in the Gaza Strips in which around 20 Palestinians were killed. Many more were injured. Images of the large numbers of children and women amongst the casualties were particularly horrifying.  I have repeatedly expressed my deep concern over mounting casualties and civilian suffering in Gaza and raised these concerns with the Government of Israel.  It is hard to see how this action can be justified. Such violence only adds to the difficulty of reaching the peaceful solution which Britain is fully committed to working to achieve.”  

 

Speaking about the British Muslim community, Beckett said, "In Britain, these communities, including the Muslim communities, have found a society in which they have been welcomed and feel at home; free not only to practise their religion openly and proudly, but free also to speak their minds, to curve out livelihoods for themselves, to get involved in every aspect of life and the running of the country.”

 

Speaking about the contributions British Muslims made to this country, the British Foreign Secretary observed, "Britain has been blessed with a fresh well-spring of talent and of energy. That is certainly true of the British Muslim community. British Muslims have made and continue to make an immense contribution to every aspect of British life: you help drive the economy, you invigorate public and political life, and you have enriched British culture from music and dance to film and food.” 

 

Speaking about extremists, Beckett said, "There are extremists who want to split us apart - not just those who claim to act in the name of Islam but also the racists who respond with bigotry and bile. But they are on the margins. But it is this unity - of purpose and of aspirations - that gives me the confidence that - together - we will overcome whatever the challenges lie ahead.”

 

Referring to Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr, the British Foreign Secretary observed, "For Muslims, Ramadan is, I am told, a time of self-sacrifice and contemplation. It is also a time in which the bonds of family and community are celebrated. British Muslims are and always will be hugely valued and admired part of our common British community. This country would be poorer - in every sense - without the men and women in this room and the many, many more whom they represent.”