Inspirational Muslims and the fight against terrorism
Speaking at the Muslim News Awards For Excellence, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid discusses how we should respond to terror attacks
I think it’s fitting that the trophies being given to the winners tonight are based on an astrolabe.
It’s an ancient device used by navigators.
A tool that shows you the way even in the darkest night.
And right now, in this city, in this country, at this moment in time, I think we need that more than ever.
After the Charlie Hebdo killings, I remember having to explain to one of my daughters that the terrorists who attacked Paris called themselves Muslims.
That they claimed inspiration from the religion of my family, my parents, my grandparents, and countless generations of Javids before them.
You don’t need me to tell you they had no right to do so.
I’m no religious scholar.
Many years have passed since I studied the Koran as a child.
But even I know it offers no justification for what happened in Paris, or for the kind of indiscriminate slaughter that came to Westminster last week.
You literally cannot be both a Muslim and a murderer.
Nor do the views and actions of the extremists have anything in common with our daily lives.
As one Muslim put it on Twitter: “I don’t even know what the third compartment on the washing machine is for, let alone how to build a caliphate.”
Yet we can’t deny that these people THINK they are Muslims.
They identify as Muslims.
They genuinely believe they are acting for the glory of Islam.
So how do we deal with this?
How do we respond to the fact that so many Muslims do so much good, while a handful of people use Islam to justify such evil?
That Muslims proudly walk into Parliament as MPs and Ministers, while a man calling himself a Muslim walked in as a cold-blooded killer?
The answer lies in this room tonight.
In the wake of the attack on Westminster, there was a lot of talk about “business as usual”.
About carrying on as normal, because if we change our behaviour the terrorists win.
That’s especially true of Muslims.
Look around this room tonight.
Educators, scientists, entrepreneurs.
Leading figures in sport, media and the arts.
Muslims saving lives as doctors and changing lives through politics.
I’m talking about incredible people who show to the non-Muslim world what Muslims are capable of.
The good that our community can do – and does – day in, day out.
As for the terrorists…
As for those who would seek to hijack and pervert our religion, our culture and our history…
Well, to them it shows that they don’t speak for Britain’s Muslims.
That they represent nobody but their sad, twisted selves.
The extremists want to drive a wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims.
They want us to turn on each other.
They want us to join in their hate-filled assault on everything we hold dear.
So just imagine how it must anger them when they see Muslims playing such a positive role in this great nation.
How it must stick in their craw when they see us celebrating what we do for the country we love.
They will hate this event because it shows, once again, that they have failed.
And it shows that they will always fail.
Many of us here tonight – probably most of us, in fact – are the children or grandchildren of immigrants.
Of people who came to this country to work hard, build something positive and give their children and grandchildren a better life.
They didn’t give up their identities.
They were proud of their heritage, proud to be Muslims.
And they recognised that the values they held dear – hard work, honesty, integrity, and a determination to do good…
They recognised that those weren’t just Muslim values, they were British values too.
They were the pioneers of our community, and we owe them all a debt of gratitude.
Not just for what they have done for us in the past, but for the way in which their lessons will endure for many years to come.
Because tonight, when the night seems darkest, the beliefs, ideals and values that we learned from our faith and from previous generations can serve as our astrolabe.
They can guide us.
They can show us the way.
If we abide by them, they will help lead our community through stormy seas, just as they did for our parents and our grandparents.
The people in this room exemplify those values.
So thank you to all the winners and nominees for all the good that you do.
Thank you to Ahmed and everyone at Muslim News for bringing us all together this evening.
And thank you to everyone here tonight for coming out and showing the world that, even in troubled times we can all be proud.
Proud to be British.
And proud to be Muslim.