Article in The Asian Image
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.
Our world has, at various points, been divided into empires, carved into countries, and separated by ethnicities.
Conflict has taken many forms.
Today I want to focus on a dangerous and rising phenomenon.
One where we see religion turning on religion, sect upon sect.
In other words, where faith is forming the fault lines.
According to this worldview – and it’s the view of many…
…my ally and my enemy are determined not by geography or politics or colour, but more and more so by religion.
The fundamental tenets of the major faiths don’t lend themselves to this.
They are not intrinsically on some collision course.
However, religion is being used by some as a means of division, segregation, discrimination and persecution.
And that persecution, I believe, is the biggest challenge we face in this young century.
It has become a global crisis.
I am delighted to speak about the vital place I believe faith has in politics.
For the Conservative Party has always put faith at the heart of policy making.
Religion runs through our history and through our veins.
So today I want to argue that, in government…
…even in a Coalition government…
…we are staying true to those roots. Read more
In his speech ‘A Time of Triumph’, Winston Churchill praised those who came ‘from the
uttermost ends of the earth’ to fight alongside Britain in the Second World War.
“From the poorest colony to the most powerful dominion”, he said, “the great maxim held:
when the King declares war, the Empire is at war”.
Both of my grandfathers were among those brave men.
And for that reason I have always known something of British India’s role in that conflict.
But for many years I was unaware of the role their fellow countrymen played 30 years earlier.
The one and a half million from modern day India, Pakistan and Bangladesh who served,
fought and fell for Britain in the Great War. Read more
We are just 13 years into this young century.
And in that short time we have seen all the old economic certainties turned on
First, in terms of financial stability.
When we entered the third millennium, economic systems seemed sound, secure
We thought financial crashes were just grim chapters in history books.
We were even told there would be ‘no return to boom and bust’.
And yet in 2008 we were plunged into the biggest recession since the Second
World War. Read more