Baroness Warsi will defend the right of Christians, Muslims, Jews and others to publicly practise their faith insisting that “people who do God do good”.
Her comments come in a speech in London marking the first anniversary of a landmark visit to the Vatican by a delegation of ministers in which she claimed that British society is under threat from the rising tide of “militant secularisation”.
It comes as new research lays bare the scale of Britain’s growing dependence on religious groups to meet social needs in the midst of recession.
Exactly one year after leading the largest UK Ministerial delegation to the Holy See, Sayeeda Warsi reflects on the Papacy of Pope Benedict XVI
By Baroness Warsi
A year ago today, I led the UK’s largest ever ministerial delegation to the Holy See. There is one moment of that trip which I recall particularly vividly: when six fellow ministers and I nervously assembled in Pope Benedict’s audience chamber in the Vatican, awaiting his arrival. The Holy Father seldom grants private audiences except to heads of state or government, and each of us sensed the importance of meeting the man who is the spiritual leader of more than a billion people and an inspiration to many more.
When the Holy Father entered the room, wearing his trademark bright red shoes, we were put at ease. The 84-year-old Pontiff greeted the party in turn. “Excellency!” he exclaimed when he saw another member of our group, the Archbishop of Westminster. Pope Benedict accepted our gifts – a King James Bible from the Prime Minister and an illustrated Quran from me – with grace. It was during the few private words I had with him that he urged me to continue making the case for faith in society.
Your Majesties, your excellencies, it is a pleasure to speak at this OIC Heads of State meeting – and a privilege that I’m the first British Government Minister to do so.
I am delighted to be here in Egypt, which among many other things is the home of Al Azhar, the ‘Manaratul ‘Ilm’ for many Muslims across the world. I was deeply honoured to have met his Eminence the Shaykh Al Azhar yesterday and His Holiness Pope Tawadros II today.
On Holocaust Memorial Day, Sayeeda Warsi explains the importance of visiting the sites of atrocities.
By Baroness Warsi
It was a bitterly cold day when I first visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, and the wind penetrated my thick coat and warm boots. As I stood in the place where millions of people were imprisoned and murdered, the haunting atmosphere made this whole event feel real – no longer a chapter in history but an actual place where people became the victims of the biggest atrocity in European history. Standing there, feeling that cold wind, seeing those bleak surroundings, the reality of what happened hit home in a way that no history book, TV documentary or historian had managed to do.
Years later, visiting Srebrenicasent a shiver down my spine in a very similar way. Srebrenica is a name that no longer denotes a town, but the massacre of thousands of men and boys, taken from their families and summarily killed by the forces of Ratko Mladic. That rural valley and the beauty of the hillside location stood stark against the pock-marked, bullet-ridden buildings, which silently stood witness to the utter horror of what took place there in July 1995. Read more
Fewer than one in four people now believe that following Islam is compatible with a British way of life, Britain’s most senior Muslim minister will warn today.
Highlighting unpublished research showing that a majority of the country now believes that Islam is a threat to Western civilisation Baroness Sayeeda Warsi will say that “underlying, unfounded mistrust” of Muslims is in itself fuelling extremism.
And she will cite new figures from the Association of Chief Police Officers showing that between 50 to 60 per cent of all religious hate crimes reported to police in Britain are now perpetrated against Muslims.
Senior representatives from the Vatican, the United States and Canada are among those flying into Britain to discuss freedom of religion and belief at a high level meeting in London this week.
This is an issue particularly close to the heart of Baroness Warsi, Senior Minister in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Minister for Faith and Communities, who is hosting the gathering of foreign ministers and representatives from around the world.
The Baroness, a practising Muslim who is the first female Muslim Government minister in the UK, wants to address the issue of religious freedom within the context of the UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18.
Thank you all very much for joining me today. Welcome to those who have travelled a long way to be here. I am delighted to have such a distinguished group of Ministers, Ambassadors and senior officials here.
I believe that tackling religious intolerance and promoting freedom of religious belief are two deeply important issues.
Religious intolerance too often is used as a pretext to deny an individual their basic freedom. It is used to deny them their rights to participate as equal citizens in society. To deny them the ability to manifest their faith, to share it and to practice it.
These are issues that are consistently raised by Parliamentarians in the UK, by our media and by our constituents.
But they also matter to me personally – as an individual, as a proud British person and as a practising Muslim in a majority Christian nation, and as a Minister responsible for promoting freedom of religion or belief both at home and abroad.
I wanted to get a group of key individuals together to share experiences of what we each have done to date on Freedom of Religion or Belief and religious intolerance, and to see how we can work more closely together. How we can communicate better.
I know all your countries have been active in this area. I believe that between us we can influence the international debate.
I reject outright the notion some peddle that groups with different faiths and beliefs cannot co-exist peacefully, with respect for each other’s views.
However, some look to manipulate religious intolerance to achieve their own ends, sowing discord and conflict.
Alistair Burt: ...of Interior and United Nations Development Programme was signed to this effect. (c) During her visit to Afghanistan 4- 6 March, the Senior Minister of State, my noble Friend the right hon. Baroness Warsi discussed women's vital contribution to building peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan with the Afghan Government and wider A […]
Alistair Burt: ...on 6 May, urging all parties to restrain from violence or excessive use of force, and to substitute dialogue for confrontation. The Minister of State, my noble Friend the right hon. Baroness Warsi raised concerns about recent violence with the Bangladesh Foreign Minister most recently in a meeting on 25 April. On 13 March, she issued a stat […]
Mark Simmonds: ...www.gov.uk/government/publications/support-for-briti sh-nationals-abroad-a-guide I also refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my noble Friend, the Senior Minister of State right hon. Baroness Warsi PC, to the noble Lord, Lord Kennedy of Southwark, on 23 April 2013, Official Report,House of Lords, column 1350.
Lord Northbrook: ...on 23 October. However, the Government have not seen fit to take this idea seriously. A Written Answer to my noble friend Lord Sharkey last June was vague and woolly. The noble Baroness, Lady Warsi, in her wind-up speech to last October’s debate was little better in addressing the issue, and I ask the Minister whether a firmer commitment […]
Hugo Swire: The Senior Minister of State, my noble Friend the right hon. Baroness Warsi, on 15 April, and the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), on 16 April, raised the issue of anti-Muslim violence with a delegation of senior Burmese Ministers on their visit to London, ca […]
Hugo Swire: .... This should be done through a clear and transparent investigative and prosecutorial process. During a meeting on 15 April, the Senior Minister of State, my noble Friend the right hon. Baroness Warsi pressed Aung Min, Minister for Burmese President's Office, to follow up on the commitment made by President Thein Sein to open an office of […]
Baroness Warsi: Article 24 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations makes clear that the archives and documents of a diplomatic mission shall be inviolable “at any time and wherever they may be”. Material held by Governments originating from their diplomatic missions may not, therefore, be published or used in court.
Baroness Warsi: Officials from the UK representative to the EU and our Consulate-General in Jerusalem regularly discuss the situation in Gaza with their European counterparts. Those discussions cover the security and human rights of Palestinians living in Gaza, including children. Our Consul-General visited Gaza with other EU heads of missions on 26 February […]
Baroness Warsi: We have not carried out an assessment of the legality of the weapons used by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza. We monitor all military activity in Gaza to the extent possible and regularly discuss the use of force with the Israeli authorities, reminding them that any use of force should be proportionate and in line with international humanit […]
Baroness Warsi: We have not discussed this issue with European partners. We believe that it is correct that the responsibility for the decision on whether to award a country the right to host an international sporting competition rests with the international federation concerned, in this case the Union of European Football Associations.