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Transcript of speech by Prime Minister David Cameron at the Muslim News Awards for Excellence, Grosvenor House, Park Lane on Monday 31 March 2014.

11th May 2014

Thank you for having me here tonight.

There are two reasons why I think an event like tonight is so important.

First, this is about celebrating the huge contribution Muslims make to Britain.

Second, events like this challenge the narrow, intolerant view about Muslims and about Islam that still exists in parts of our country today.

And I’d like to say a word on each.

First, celebrating excellence. I’ll take any chance to champion the massive contribution that British Muslims make in our country.

I see it every single day: I turn on the radio – and it’s Mishal Husain presenting the Today programme.
I go to Parliament – and it’s Sayeeda Warsi, Sajid Javid, Tariq Ahmad and Mohamed Sheikh representing us on the Government benches.

And when I go Europe, yes I see Syed Kamall, not just a British Muslim in the Conservative Party in Brussels but leading the Conservative Party in Brussels in the vital work in the European Parliament.

I visit the businesses that are bringing growth back to Britain – and its Asian firms that are innovating and working all the hours they can.

I get home and read the back pages of the newspapers – and it’s Amir Khan fighting for those titles, Mo running for those golds, and Muslim Premier League stars scoring those goals.

This is something we should celebrate in our country tonight. But we should be absolutely clear; the job has not been done. There are still glass ceilings and walls we need to break down in our country so that talented Asians from every community in every part of our community can make it to the top. To the top in politics; to the top in the Army; to the top in the judiciary; to the top in the media; to the top in the Police. That is what I want to see in our country and when we achieve that we’ll be a truly diverse and equal nation.

But when we celebrate the contribution of British Muslims it’s not just those in the spotlight.

Muslims give more to charity than any other faith group.

And they play a huge role in our communities, day in, day out.

This winter I’ve been up and down the country visiting places that have been devastated by flooding. We saw the worst of weather, but the best of Britain. And the Muslim community certainly did their bit.

Like the young Muslims from Huddersfield. They got together with other faith and voluntary groups, they layed sandbags in Worcester protected a church in Surrey from the deluge and showed above all that our British community spirit could never be dampened.

And tonight this year is a particularly poignant year to be remembering the Muslim contribution to Britain. It is nearly a century since the outbreak of the First World War. We’ll be commemorating that in August.

More than a million servicemen from an undivided India fought for Britain.Hundreds of thousands were Muslim.

The sepoys poised with their guns, holding the lines from the Western Front to the Middle East.They showed outstanding courage like the first South Asian winner of the Victoria Cross, Khudadad Khan.

Many thousands lost their lives, fighting for the freedom that we enjoy today. So tonight we should remember them and all those British Asians and Muslims who serve in our Armed Forces because their legacy, their work is our liberty

Second, let me say this.

We need to keep on challenging the intolerant view of Muslims that exists in some parts of our country. That is why have done more than any other Government to try and tackle Islamophobia: We set up a cross-government working group on tackling anti-Muslim hatred – no Government has done that before.

We helped set up a service for people to report anti-Muslim attacks – again, no Government has done that before. And of course, we launched Srebrenica Memorial Day, to educate the next generation about the terrifying, tragic consequences of hatred.

But these are just the basics.

Really tackling Islamophobia means making absolutely sure that no person is held back from living their life or reaching their goals simply because of the faith they follow.

So yes – we’re delivering on Sharia-compliant student loans, Help to Buy deposits and entrepreneur funds.

And yes – we aim to be the first country in the West to offer an Islamic bond: a Sukuk and I’m so proud of that.

And let me make absolutely clear that while I’m Prime Minister of this country Halal is safe in Britain.

It is all part of this Government’s overriding aim: to remove the barriers that stop people playing their part in society and give everyone, whatever their background, the opportunities they need to get on in life.

So those unsung heroes – let’s sing their praises.Their huge contribution to Britain – let’s put it in the spotlight.

The intolerance that blights people’s lives – let’s stamp it out once and for all. And together, let’s celebrate all that’s great about Britain’s Muslims.

Thank you – and above all well done to all those who have taken part tonight, all those who will win, but all those who have been nominated and the organisers for laying on such a splendid evening.

Thank you very much indeed.

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The Muslim News Awards for Excellence event is to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to society. Over 850 people from diverse background, Muslim and non-Muslim, attended the gala dinner.


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