Tom [Brake], Dr Walsh, very distinguished ladies and gentlemen and friends, I am very sorry that I have to leave soon after my speech or just a few words, but I want to say thank you to the UPF, because for many, many years we have been working for peace, not only in the middle east, and I have had the pleasure of working with some of the friends here in Jerusalem, as well as on the Korean peninsula.
Early this year, we had a conference on extremism and radicalisation and so I’m also happy that you have been or will be discussing these very important topics today. Tom [Brake] has already referred to extremism and jihadi elements and, of course I don’t need to hide behind words and think that this is elsewhere; of course, it’s to do with young Muslims in many parts, but then I also want to draw your attention to the growing and ever increasing extremism and radicalisation in other communities too.
In Europe, there is an increase in the right-wing politics and political parties, ranging from Pegida in Germany to the those elsewhere, such as in Belgium, Denmark, Austria and Switzerland, not to mention the United States of America with Trump and what he says about other people, and stopping Muslims from going to that country and building a wall between Mexico and the USA.
I am delighted to support UPF because of the work of the International Association of Parliamentarians for Peace (IAPP), and I was there with Dr Walsh when all the parliamentarians and colleagues were attending this very important conference. I think it is very important for parliamentarians across the globe to work for peace. We have been talking about this, but, more importantly, getting people from all sections of the community, as well as from around the world, to try and understand from the other side.
Whether it is the Korean peninsula, going up to the border. There are some Korean friends here, who were talking to me earlier about trying to see if you can engage with some people from the north. However, I think we also need to deal with some of the important issues. When we have what is happening in Syria and Iraq, in Yemen, in Bahrein, in Libya, and when the UN has failed. In my view, the UN has become so weak and I don’t know who controls it, but I am a Kashmiri myself.
In Kashmir, in 2 months, we have seen 10,000 people injured, because of these peaceful protests that they’ve had. About 80 people have been killed, 4,000 seriously injured and 570 young boys have lost their eyesight. There are 1.8 million adults who are suffering from some sort of mental disorder because of the stress and that’s just one place I am talking about, but if you look at other places, such as Palestine, Gaza, where we have been together with UPF, we have problems today.
To be honest with you, over the years, we have been talking about peace … His Lordship will tell you about Northern Ireland, and I think they’ve done fantastic work there; let’s give him a round of applause. In Northern Ireland, they’ve shown leadership, but also tolerance and understanding of each other. Sadly, we haven’t yet come to that stage elsewhere.
I’d like to make one final point. I know there are a few Muslim scholars and friends here. The recent statements from Teheran and Mecca have not been helpful, because the supreme leader of Iran has said that the big Satan, which is the USA, and if there are Americans here, please don’t mind me saying that; of course, Dr Walsh, but he is taking about the government, not about you! Then, he calls the Saudis the son of this big Satan or, in other words, the little Satan. The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia has proclaimed and said that the Iranians are not Muslim at all. So, it’s a very sad state of affairs where there will be more tension, more extremism, more radicalisation; not necessarily political movements.
I know you have some wonderful speakers and scholars, so I will sit down now, Tom, but I thank for giving me this wonderful opportunity to welcome you to parliament. Tom [Brake] has already welcomed you, but I do so as well.
Author: Hon. Lord Nazir Ahmed
Member of the House of Lords, United Kingdom
Hon. Lord Nazir Ahmed was listed on The Muslim 500 as one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world from 2009 to 2014. He was the first Muslim to be appointed to the House of Lords after swearing on the Holy Quran. Lord Ahmed was part of the UPF delegation to Gaza and Jerusalem. He has been a constant advocate for peace and reconciliation on the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East and in Kashmir. He fought for religious freedom and successfully secured the release of British primary schoolteacher Gilliam Gibbons and Mariam Ibrahim from Sudan.