(LR) First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, MSP, Coordinator for the EC of Dialogue with Churches, Religious Associations or Communities & Philosophical & Non-Confessional organisations, Katharina von Schnurbein and Director General of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi
Ahmed J Versi
Over 300 people from cross-section of Scottish civic and religious societies, as well as representatives from the Armed Services and the Police, Fire and Health Services participated in an event on EU integration, faith and diversity. The event was organised by Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society and hosted by Scottish Government Chief Whip Bill Kidd, MSP, in Scottish Parliament on March 2.
First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, MSP, praised the contributions made by various faith groups in Scotland, including the Scottish Shia Muslim community. “They add to the diversity of our society and the strength of our communities,” the Leader of the Scottish National Party said.
She paid tribute to the Ahlul Bayt Society for “raising awareness” and “understanding of Islam” through its educational work, providing help for elderly people and people with disabilities. “And in all of its activities, it has worked tirelessly to build relationships across faiths, cultures and countries. It has challenged prejudice, supported integration and promoted interfaith dialogue,” the First Minister said in her keynote speech.
On the thousands of refugees stranded in Europe and how many refugees will the UK take, Sturgeon said Scotland has taken 40 percent of the refugees to arrive in the UK under the Syrian resettlement programme. “Scotland is playing its part in providing a home for refugees. But you only need to look at the news from across Europe in order to see how far we are falling short, as a continent, in developing an effective, collective and humane response to the refugee crisis,” she added.
Coordinator for the European Commission of dialogue with churches, religious associations or communities as well as philosophical and non-confessional organisations, Katharina von Schnurbein, said the Commission is “creating a society in which everybody can feel at home, a society where each and every individual can feel equally at ease in public as they do at home provided they adhere to our common values of human dignity, freedom, equality and solidarity, democracy and the rule of law.” She believes that when “we stand up against anti-Semitism, against anti-Muslim hatred and any other form of intolerance we stand up for our society and our values. I personally am always very impressed when religious groups stand up for each other.”
She told The Muslim News that the views of the communities are taken seriously by the Commission and help factoring their views to “formulate policy”.
Director General of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society, Sayed Ali Abbas Razawi, said Europe represents a covenant to the Shia Muslim community, “a covenant that binds people together when they most need it.”
The Ahlul Bayt Society works to engage with other communities and faiths; strengthening ties in an effort to create a setting for religious and racial harmony, equality, and diversity in the nation.