Julie Siddiqui, National Co-Ordinator of the Big Iftar campaign and member of the Armed Forces Muslim Forum (AFMF), joined an Iftar reception at the Ministry of Defence last night to talk about #WalkTogether – an initiative supported by AFMF. The #WalkTogether initiative asked people all over Britain yesterday, on the tenth anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings, to alight from their mode of transport one stop early and walk in a quiet moment of unity and remembrance of those who lost their lives.
Ms Siddiqui spoke to members of the Armed Forces as well as representatives from various Muslim and non-Muslim faith networks, charities and communities about the importance of unity amongst all communities and the opportunity to remember and reflect on what happened that day; a day where terrorists attempted to divide the nation; how mutual respect united London at that time; and how such mutual respect is now crucial to how we need to live our lives today.
That message was reiterated by Dr Waqar Azmi, the Chairman of the charity Remembering Srebrenica. Dr Waqar spoke about the Bosnian massacre 20 years ago and how vital it is to remember and reflect on what happens when differences in religion take priority over respect for humanity, and how, like all Christians are not responsible for what happened in Bosnia, all Muslims are not responsible for the actions of ISIL.
Inspired by the Big Iftar campaign, the Armed Forces Muslim Forum wanted to remember the tenth anniversary of 7/7 by hosting an Iftar reception at the Ministry of Defence; an event to bring Muslims and non-Muslims together as a symbol of shared experience and social cohesion. In light of the Tunisian terror attack, events like this demonstrate how important it is that the MOD be championing involvement with and support of Islamic events, to leave no doubt that the threat of terrorism does not represent Islam in Britain.
Speaking last night as Patron of the Armed Forces Muslim Forum, the Rt Hon Earl Howe said:
Events like this, and the #WalkTogether initiative, are hugely significant, and the Armed Forces Muslim Forum is proud to champion them. The appalling acts of terror such as those in Tunisia recently, and those that London witnessed a decade ago can sometimes make it easy to lose hope as we see the consequences of hate.
However, the extremist minority in no way represent us or our society, and events like those we are celebrating tonight remind us that we are far better defined by unity; different communities throwing open their doors and inviting everyone in to understand, share and respect. By uniting around the values we share such as respect for the law, freedom and tolerance we convert hate to hope.
The Armed Forces Muslim Forum was brought into being last year and seeks to build a positive and better relationship between the British Armed Forces and the British Muslim communities through dialogue, conversation and collaboration. The existence of the Forum underlines the strong relationship between the Armed Forces and the Muslim community and shows the Ministry of Defence’s commitment to strengthening it.