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Photos from UK Bahrain Islamic Finance Summit
Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
It is a true honour to be here. I have had the privilege of speaking from the pulpits of Britain’s oldest cathedrals and from the lecterns of the world’s greatest universities…
But there is nothing quite like standing here at Muscat’s spectacular Grand Mosque, a place of deep spirituality and immense beauty.
For me, this is something of a home from home – not only because it is a symbol of the faith I hold so dearly, Islam, but because its construction was partly down to a British company!
And it is therefore the perfect backdrop for me to talk about religious tolerance. For Oman under His Majesty’s wise leadership is a symbol of that very co-existence we are all striving for. Proof that sectarianism is not inevitable – even when a religion is blighted by splits in a region that is constantly the focus of such tensions. Now I look forward to saying more about the lessons I think we can learn from your example later on in this speech. Read more
I am delighted to be here to celebrate interfaith week and I am very grateful to Bishop Tony for inviting me.
For many decades I have called not just for interfaith dialogue but for interfaith action.
It’s no good the local vicar and local imam just sharing a cuppa and a samosa.
Different faiths need to come together, work together and together make a difference to their communities.
I believe that over the last few years we have seen a shift from interfaith dialogue to interfaith action.
To encourage that, we have ensured our faith-based programmes in government are interfaith programmes.
And they don’t just bring communities together for the sake of bringing them together; they bring them together to make a difference.
Programmes like the Big Iftar…
…which encourages mosques and community centres to open their doors and break their fast with different communities during Ramadan.
Like Near Neighbours…
…which gives grants to grassroots projects of many different faiths in the areas which need it most.
And like the First World War Commonwealth Contribution programme
…which shines a spotlight on those Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and others who fought and fell, side by side, a hundred years ago.
I have often argued that the presence of another faith is not a threat to your own identity.
It shows that you are unshakeable in your identity.
Working alongside someone of a different faith doesn’t make you less of a Muslim, a Christian or a Jew.
It actually makes you more of one.
It’s something I believe we do very well in this country. And I think we can do it even better.