Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt alongside Minister without Portfolio Baroness Warsi, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles and Home Secretary Theresa May, hosted the annual Eid–ul Fitr reception on 21 September.
The reception was attended by over 350 guests from Britain’s Muslim communities, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives from groups involved in community outreach programmes across the UK.
Addressing the guests, the Ministers praised the contribution of the UK public towards helping the victims of the Pakistan floods and also spoke of “huge challenges” as the floods crisis in Pakistan continues.
Mr Burt said:
‘The reflection at the moment for many of us is orientated towards Pakistan as that country recovers from the most awful natural disaster and I know many people here have been engaged, and will continue to be engaged over months and perhaps years to come, in the work of renovation and reconstruction….but we know that this will present a huge opportunity as well for people in this country to show that we are an extended family that reaches all the way across the world to Pakistan and I’m sure many of us will remain engaged in that work for a long time to come.’
Baroness Warsi paid tribute to the way that the UK has responded to the disaster:
‘I’m proud that the British Government was the first to respond and the most generous to respond. I’m proud that my colleague, Andrew Mitchell, the Secretary of State for International Development, not just led the charge in Britain to say we must respond and we must not forget Pakistan, but actually led the challenge around the world to tell other countries and other nations to respond too. And I’m proud of the fact that only yesterday our aid was increased by another seventy million, and I’m also proud that the British public responded, irrespective of their faith, by responding to the Disaster Emergency Committee with over fifty million. And I’m also proud that the British Asian community in the amazing month of Ramadan contributed over ten million, just as a community, to the Pakistani floods. I think that is a huge that this community can be proud of.’
The Ministers also highlighted the importance of inter-faith engagement and dialogue across all communities in Britain.
Mr Pickles said:
‘For those who value our society, whether they’re Muslims or Christians or Jews or Sikhs or Hindus, those that are, that are inspired by faith, it’s the clearest demonstration of wanting to do something for those in need. It isn’t that people go about it with a great fanfare. The thing that’s been most impressive in terms of the flood relief of how workmanlike it’s been, how people have gone about it in a very organised way. And I certainly believe that people with faith have an enormous amount to put back in to communities.’
Celebrating the achievements of the Muslim communities in Britain, Home Secretary Theresa May said:
‘At its heart this Government is about breaking down barriers, whether they be in tackling discrimination or empowering communities. The Muslim community has a proud tradition of engagement in politics at a local level and let us all hope that the recent advances at a national level are followed up with more and more young Muslims becoming involved in British politics in all parties and at all levels. Let’s celebrate the progress that has been made at the same time as we celebrate this wonderful festival. Eid Mubarak to you all.’