I would like to thank Glasgow Central Mosque for organising tonight’s event to celebrate the festival of Eid Al-Fitr.
This year Eid coincides with one of the biggest and most diverse events in the world – the Commonwealth Games. The City of Glasgow has done Scotland and the United Kingdom proud by hosting the most successful ever ‘friendly games’.
And this friendliness – so characteristic of the people of Glasgow - underpins the welcome the city has given over the years to people of different religions, races, creed and cultures who have chosen to make Glasgow their home. Glasgow is now a diverse city, with people belonging to many faiths. And this is seen not only in Glasgow, but right across Scotland.
I think that something all religions have in common, is the message they give about the obligations not just to God, but also to each other and particularly to those who need our help the most. Faith matters: it provides a strong moral code and offers great comfort to those in need. It also inspires great numbers of people to public service, and I applaud the good work that people of faith – Christians, Muslim, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and others – are doing in hundreds of different ways in our local communities in Glasgow and right across Scotland and the UK.
The role of Mosques across Scotland, the United Kingdom and internationally are important in bringing Muslim communities together but they are also important in promoting wider community relations and understanding.
This Mosque’s educational and community work should be highlighted in that regard. Your work, ranging from blood and bone marrow donation, providing social care for the elderly and needy, and right through to painting and decorating – all provide important community care and help bring communities closer together.
There can be no clearer example of that than the way in which the Mosque reacted to the tragic event of 29 November last year when a helicopter crashed onto the Clutha Vaults bar just across the Clyde. This Mosque offered to take in and help casualties and volunteers over that painful weekend. I remember meeting with some of you, alongside the Deputy Prime Minister, in the days following the accident. I know that the UK Government, alongside the Scottish Government, Glasgow City Council and the people of Scotland are grateful to you for the help and support you provided.
Tonight is a celebration to mark the end of Ramadan. But, taking place as it does in the midst of Glasgow’s successful Commonwealth Games, it is also a great opportunity to welcome those Muslim athletes and visitors who are spending Eid as our guests this year. Fasting in the long summer days in Scotland must be a real test of faith. However, I understand how meeting that challenge can provide further motivation and spirit, and it is that motivation and spirit that can help drive athletes on to medal success in the Games. I wish you all well.
Glasgow is a proud, successful and diverse city. It is a welcoming and compassionate city, which is reflected in the decision of the opening ceremony organisers to work in partnership with Unicef to help the children of the Commonwealth. The people of Glasgow, of Scotland, of the whole United Kingdom won’t sit idly by when they see others in need - whether it is tackling famine, poverty, disease or the scourge of sexual violence in conflict.
I am very honoured to be here this evening and it is great to see so many people from Scotland’s Muslim community and athletes from across the Commonwealth. The three core values of the Commonwealth Games Federation – Humanity, Equality, and Destiny – are values that we all hold dear. They are particularly resonant at times such as Eid. So, can I end by offering you all a very warm and heartfelt ‘Eid Mubarak’.