Saturday, 13 February 2010

We do support Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, says David Miliband

We do support Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders
with Jerusalem as its capital, says David Miliband

Dr. Mozammel Haque

“We do support Palestinian state on pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, with the final settlement of refugees; we also say that Palestine will exist and recognise and celebrate the country of Israel next door to it within secure borders as well,” said the British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, MP, as a guest speaker and keynote speaker at the annual function of the Muslim Friends for Labour, at the Kensington Town Hall, on 19th of January 2010 and added, “Because the truth is that we will not find justice for one ethnic group or one religious group unless we recognise the co-existence; the only basis for real existence. We should be the people for willing to stand up against injustice wherever it exists but also celebrate those who are campaigning against injustice wherever that exists as well.”

Earlier, while delivering the opening speech, the pioneer of the Muslim parliamentarians in the Labour Party, Mohammad Sarwar, requested the audience to stand up to observe one minute of silence to pay respect to the victims of earthquake in Haiti. After the silence, MP Sarwar, as a chair of the Muslim Friends of Labour, requested his fellow parliamentarians, Minister Sadiq Khan, Minister Shahid Malik, Khaled Mahmood MP, and Lord Ahmed, to join him at the stage while he would be speaking. All these parliamentarians wanted to listen the prospective future parliamentarians.

Parliamentarian Mohammed Sarwar
As chair of Muslim Friends of Labour, Mohammed Sarwar felt proud and excited at the function. “Excited because as we celebrate the contribution of the Muslims in this Labour Party tonight; we also look forward to the future of this relationship. All I can remember as a young man born in Faisalabad Pakistan moving to this country to join my fiancé, that time, my wife Parveen to UK and at that time I had no intention, whatsoever, to entering politics. All I wanted to do was to create a better life for myself and my family. So you can imagine how much tremendous honour it was for me to be elected as Britain’s first Muslim Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom,” said Mr. Sarwar.

Parliamentarian Sarwar also felt proud because now there are so many talented parliamentarians in the country. “Extremely proud to have so many other talented parliamentarians around me. Lord Ahmed, I am sure all of you know, the first Muslim Member of the House of Lords, who has been a great campaigner for peace and human rights in Palestine and Kashmir; in fact, he has just returned yesterday of having witness first hand suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza. He does a tremendous job,” Sarwar added.

Mr. Sarwar also mentioned “Our rising star, Rt. Hon. Sadiq Khan MP, is the first Muslim Privy Counsellor and the first Muslim to sit in the Cabinet. We are proud of that. Shahid Malik, as you know, first he was International Development Minister, Justice Minister, then Home Office Minister and now Community Minister and he was the first Muslim to be member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party. And most importantly my younger brother Khaled Mahmood MP, who has taken the lead on tackling terrorism and who despite his ill-health is with us tonight.” He also recognised the fantastic job of hundreds of Labour Councillors, Mayors, deputy Mayors, throughout the country.

Parliamentarian Sarwar also introduced the five new prospective Parliamentary candidates (PPCs). “Today’s event is the future. I am delighted to introduce five of our new PPCs joining us this evening. Four of them are talented British Muslim women and we will be hearing from them all very shortly,” said Sarwar and added, “In my opinion it is the most important general elections of our time. We face a clear choice between two features: we can come together and fight for the values and principles we believe in and build upon the achievements we have made or we can take Britain backward if Tories come to power.”

Parliamentarian Sarwar also mentioned, “I am not for one minute going to pretend that Labour Party has got everything right but we have achieved some great developments for the Muslims here in Britain and abroad. We have protected Muslim values and protected their rights in the society. No political party in the United Kingdom or across Europe has fought harder against racism, fascism and discrimination than our Labour Party. I can say from my heart.”

Two-state solution
As regards Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sarwar said, “The Labour Party is the first mainstream political party to have a manifesto commitment to a Two-State solution in the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This policy has been reaffirmed by our current Foreign Secretary David Miliband who has taken that we should believe that this should be based on pre-1967 borders and with Jerusalem as its capital. However, we will work hard with our international partners to implement this policy and turn it into a reality. And I have no doubt in my mind that God willing, we will have an independent Palestinian state and we will have Palestinian ambassador in the United Kingdom in London.”

“I can assure you, brothers and sisters, we will continuously campaign vigorously for the creation of an independent Palestinian State based on pre-1967 borders,” emphasized Sarwar and added, “I generally believe with your continued support and with hard work and firm determination we can win the historic four-time victory for the Labour government.”

After his opening speech, the five aspiring Parliamentary candidates came to address from the stage.

Yasmin Qureshi
“Over the years there may be a time when we may disagree with perhaps on certain issues that our party has pursued but there are many many issues that we agree on and in particular in economic, social welfare and the form of justices which we carried out which no one can disagree,” said Yasmin Qureshi, representing as a Labour candidate from Bolton Southeast and thanked the people from Bolton Southeast for selecting her as a Labour candidate.

She also thanked Sarwar sahib and Lord Nazir. Mentioning about Lord Nazir, Yasmin mentioned, “certainly one of the persons who pursued me to be one of the candidates with the Labour Party for long time. He has always been there as somebody I can turn for advice and assistance. So I really like to thank him.”

“Please continue to give your support; we need your support particularly now there is a general election coming and the choice is very starchy,” she said.

Roshenara Ali
“I know that today is the very precious occasion for all of us, parliamentary candidates and for parliamentarians within the Muslim community because it has been a very great struggle I know too well having grown up in the midst of east end of London, the heart of the British Muslim Bangladeshi community. The struggle and the hard work and the determination that have given someone like me and many others the opportunity to hope for a task to stand as a woman in Parliament after the next general election,” said Roshenara Ali, Labour Parliamentary candidate for Bethnal Green and Bow in east end of London. .

She was selected in 2007. “That has been a long selection, a contest if you like; in an open shortlist in Bethnal Green and Bow where part of membership is Bangladeshi Muslim background. Nobody told them to vote for a woman; they did it out of choice because they felt it is the right things to do,” said Roshenara and added, “I want to remind media and everybody in this room that within our own community there is a great sense of optimism over the need of representation in politics, woman and man of Muslim background.”

After thanking all “for the constant encouragement and support,” Roshenara said, “Why we are doing this; we know more than ever before just how important for us it is to be the centre of thing, in the mainstream as the British Muslim community and to pave the way for new generation to enter politics and public life. That will change the face of Britain and that is how to make sure the interest of the whole community including the Muslim community as represented in British politics. That is our concern, that is at the heart of the Government and that is national politics.”

Maryam Khan
“I am proud of being British Pakistani. The current situation in Pakistan shows that it needs persistent friends and supporters and I intend insha Allah to be one of those; neither I ignore the plight of Kashmiri and Palestinian people either and I will always support their struggle for freedom,” said sister Maryam Khan, a prospective Parliamentary candidate for Bury north.

Maryam also said, “I would continue to campaign as a committed member of Labour Party for social justice, continuing to believe in combating poverty, prejudice and inequality.”

Shabana Mahmood
Shabana Mahmood first took a minute to reflect on the four prospective parliamentary candidates who are women. Shabana said, “I am so pleased that all the Muslim men on the campaign trail have been nothing but welcoming and wanting to hear what I have to offer, challenging me and asking me the questions while I am on the campaign.”

Shabana also said, “I am delighted that four of us are women. It is really important because so many Muslim men were instrumental in my own selection followed by non-Muslim men and women. Same for Roshanara, Yasmin and for Maryam. The fact that four of us are women it is incredibly a very powerful thing about Muslim community in this country. Things are changing every single day.”

Shabana concluded by saying, “The Labour party is a great movement for change. It always has been and it always will be. Because I know it delivers truly amazing international institutions such as National Health Service which is not only competent socialist values, labour values and, might be, Muslim values too. Whatever the past issues may have with the party, absolutely it is the best movement for change that we have.”

Anas Sarwar
Another parliamentarian candidate, Anas Sarwar, a parliamentary candidate from his own constituency in Glasgow Central, where he was born and brought up and thanked those who have “made so many contributions to this country and there has been such great inspiration and role models to me and my generations.”

“Most of all, you are giving the young people the confident, the confidence to stand and be confident to be as both Muslims and British. I hope with your support we can continue your hard work and make a generation that follows us as far we are all of you,” said Anas.

Anas also said, “We must recognise the challenges that we have to face. We must recognise the inequalities in health, education and housing at home. We have still too many living in poverty, living in injustice and living in conflict abroad.”

Speaking about conflict abroad, Anas wanted to raise one issue “that have been passionate from my very young age, the Palestinian conflict which has been mentioned before,” said Anas and added, “I visited Palestine for the first time when I was just 12 years old, the issue is still with me ever since. The situation, I can show you, only got worse; 70% of the population unemployed; 80% of the population eating purely on UN Food programme and two-thirds of the essential medicines under the World Health organisations unable to gather. That is simply unacceptable in our 21st century world.”

“This issue is never religion,” said Anas and maintained, “We must double our efforts and show by giving the people of Gaza and Palestine the freedom and the democracy that they deserve and also peace and freedom for both sides. I am sure that I can speak for the rest of our candidates, my fellow parliamentarians that we will continue our fight until we do achieve peace and justice not only in Kashmir but in Palestine as well.”

Anas concluded his speech by saying about the relationship between the Labour Party and the Muslim community. “We had good times and bad times; we had times we agree and times we disagree. But what keeps us together, what unites us is our beliefs, values and shared principles, what we call, justice and our commitment to eradicate poverty both at home and abroad. And together, brothers and sisters, we can face challenges head on and together we can deliver equality and justice for all,” concluded Anas.

Guest Speaker and Keynote Speaker
Rt.Hon. David Miliband, Foreign Secretary

“There has been going on a big change in our society and that change is represented by many of the people in this room,” said British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband and mentioned, “Now I feel of coming of age in the Muslim community of Britain where I see five new candidates have been selected and they are also optimistic about the future of Britain and the future of the Labour Party; because they represent a new wave of change.”

“There is a time of binding together; there is a time of mutual support and then there is a time of branching out to the wider community to represent people, not just of your own religion or of your own ethnic groups, but represent the whole community,” said Miliband and expressed his “great confidence that the five new candidates that we selected, that you selected, was not the great representatives of Britain’s Muslim communities; they will be great representatives of the Labour Party but they will be great representatives of every single person in their communities in their constituencies.”

“And the reason for that they have been selected not for the colour of the skin, not for the religion that they worship, they are being selected for content of their character, of their ethics, their beliefs and their commitments for fair and just society. And that is the basis on which we achieve change. Because we always remember whatever our religion, whatever our race that unite us than divide us and the message that go out of the five new candidates is that the Labour party is determined to represent every race, every religion and every ethnicity,” said Foreign Secretary.

The British Foreign Secretary emphasized on three things tonight. First, he said, “This coming of age of the Muslim community of Britain is a tribute to you and it is a tribute to those people who are pioneers in politics, business, in arts, in sports, in diplomacy.” Miliband also mentioned about the first British Bangladeshi High Commissioner who recently completed his tenure as High Commissioner in Bangladesh.

“It is a tribute to you but it also says something about our country: That this is increasingly a country which is an open society; increasingly a country where people get on by their put in; increasingly a country that is more respectful and tolerant of the diversity and differences. So this meeting is an opportunity to celebrate what is great about our country as well as the great about our party,” mentioned Miliband.

The second thing that the Foreign Secretary said was his role as Foreign Secretary. “Britain is a mirror to the world,” said Miliband and mentioned that one of the great challenges is “to bring people together to coalition for change. And I think if we look for the future issues of the world, whether economic challenges, whether climate change, whether national and international security they depend on the coalition of the countries of the Muslim majority countries and countries which are not.”

“How do we build that coalition?” asked the question and immediately said, “First of all, we build that coalition by recognising and respecting the differences between Muslim majority countries; the diversity within the Muslim world is striking as the similarities within. Secondly, we have to recognise that there are big processes of reform going on in the Muslim world.”

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