My  background has been very much in the Middle East and the Islamic world. I came back to Britain after 26 years in the Arab world. The British  Council  is the principle cultural organisation in Britain with offices in 109 countries and many Middle Eastern states. It was wanting to work out just how to position itself in relation to Muslims and a kind of Muslim assertiveness and awareness and they asked me to think about this and come up with ideas.
          I did think about it and came with the   idea of a conference. It seemed to me that often when British people think about Islam and Muslims there is a sense of polarisation. It struck me that a lot of this was quite wrong and there was an enormous amount of shared interests. I thought it was important to explore what I call the mutualities of the relationship, instead of the  polarities.
          Sixty years ago the then head of the British Council, Lord Lloyd, was instrumental in getting land for the Muslim community in London. He approached the Prime Minister for land from crown estates and acquired a plot of land by Regent’s Park which in the course of time developed into the Islamic  Cultural Centre and the Regent’s Park Mosque. This was related to a reciprocal act in Cairo where the Egyptian government provided land for a church which became the Anglican cathedral. Here is a lovely example of what I call mutualities. The British cultural organisation being  involved in the promotion of Islamic cultural activities in London.  That struck me as one example of what I call mutualities.
          There were others. For 400 years Britain has developed  extraordinary resources in Islamic studies.  From the 16th and 17th century documents and artifacts were brought back from the Islamic world through India  and have enriched the  British Museum and private libraries.
          Muslims come from all over the Islamic world to study aspects of Islam in Britain. This struck me as another example of  mutuality.
           A third area was the financial side. The colossal investment of money from the Islamic world. It is very difficult to put a figure on it. And it struck me that this was an example of the confidence of Muslims  throughout the Islamic worked in the institutions and the  stability  of Britain.
          A fourth area is the community relations in this country. There have been very conscientious efforts to be aware of new communities in Britain. Sometimes things haven’t worked out and there have been disappointments and frustrations. But at the same time there have been enormous efforts to minimise conflict.
          I thought  the contrast with France and Germany was interesting. Things work differently there but I thought it would be useful to examine the way in which Britain, and the British Muslim communities had operated.
          I think one of the most interesting documents in this area was the Runnymead Trust’s report on Islamaphobia. This was a major document looking at things that had gone wrong with Britain and Muslims and it addressed a number of problems from employment to media coverage and education. What I liked about it was the number of people in this country who were willing to be critical and examine things that were going wrong with recommendations  about how to put those things right. I think the Runnymead Trust report on Islamaphobia is something that Britain can be proud of.
          It took a long time to do the preliminary work for the conference. I managed to get a lot of people interested. It was going to be expensive and I had to cover my costs but I  managed to persuade certain people to help financially, in  particular HSBC the huge bank that has absorbed many other components. They now own the Midland Bank. They took over the British Bank of the Middle East and they have wide interests throughout Asia.
          I read two days ago [May 1999] that they have taken over another bank, Safra Bank, which was originally  Jewish  and Allepo based. It moved to Beirut and then in the 1940s it moved to South America. So their financial empire is from Hong Kong to South America and it was very good to have their support.
           Until three days  ago I was a public servant and I also got the interest of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in particular the late very much lamented Derek Fatchett  who took a personal interest in the whole  business of mutualities. Like you, I was devastated by his death at the weekend. He was a wonderful man who was a very good listener and very conscientious. But he was personally interested and I got  financial support from the Foreign Office.I also got support from the Al Tajir World of Islam Trust.
          We held the conference from the April 28th-30th in the Royal Commonwealth Society. That was a handy place. There are quite a number of very important countries full of Muslims who are in the Commonwealth like India, Bangladesh, Pakistan as well as countries like Nigeria. So it was very good to have it there. It gave another emphasis to the conference.
          I also received great help from my colleagues overseas. As I said,  we are in 109 countries in the world and the conference and whole idea of mutualities  was something that appealed to many of them. Through my contacts overseas I got a lot of people from overseas including the president of Mauritius. He was keen to come along and make a presentation.
          My colleague in Jordan had a very good,  cordial relationship with the royal family. Both Prince Hassan and Princess Sarwa wanted to come  but  the death of King Hussein made it difficult. Princess Sarwa was able to come along and give a presentation.
          In Kuwait the Minister of Religious Affairs Dr Ahmed Al Kalib wanted to come. But there were problems in Kuwait that held him back. He sent his undersecretary.
          The interest in the conference developed enormously in the last month. This was embarrassing as I had to contain the numbers to about 100 or so and in the last week or two I had the interest of the Saudi Arabia Minister of Justice, who came with his deputy a senior Judge as did Professor Hashim the President of Al Azhar. It was very good and gratifying to have people of such calibre and distinction interested in the conference.
          One other person that I was keen to have was Tariq Saif Ramadan, the grandson of Hassan Al Bana, a very interesting thinker and writer on contemporary Islam in Europe.
          That was the interest that I managed to generate. At the same time I was working overseas with the sponsors. I consulted widely in the British Muslim community and called on a number of the leading organisations such as the Islamic Cultural Centre in Regent’s Park, the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in Oxford, the Islamic Foundation in Leicester, the Bradford Council of Mosques in Yorkshire and the Muslim College in Ealing. I also consulted with some of the distinguished Muslim journalists. I am glad to see Ahmed Versi here. He gave me good advice at one point. There was also Fuad Nahdi of Q News.
          Over the last two years,  when I started working on this conference I had some difficulty establishing who could speak for British Muslims. It is always difficult for an outsider. Sometimes you think there must be someone who can speak for them like the chief rabbi can speak for the Jews or the Archbishop of Canterbury can speak for the Anglicans.
          And of course the idea that there is no intermediary between oneself and God gives the feeling that everyone is a Muslim authority. However over the last 18 months I have been very interested in the development of the Muslim Council for Britain which is attempting to be an umbrella organisation representing Muslims. It represents perhaps 70 percent of British Muslims.  They had given me help and advise. In particular I received some extremely good advise and help from Imam Abdul Jalil Sajid who is I am sure  is well known to many of you and active in all sorts of good works. He is consulted by the government.  I also received guidance and help from Ikbar Sukrani the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain. That was the background.
           I then worked out a programme. I was keen to look at issues like education, investment and  community relations. These were covered over the three days of the conference.
          We had people from 36 different countries and representatives from all over the Islamic world, India,  Pakistan and Bangladesh,  South-East Asia, Indonesia  Malaysia  Tanzania,  Nigeria and  Europe.  We also had some European and American converts to Islam. So it was quite a representative international conference. I think about 120 participated altogether.  It would have been nice to have had even more but  there were constraints of space. Indeed a few days before the conference started I had to turn people away. They were people of the highest distinction. It was quite embarrassing. But I had to avoid chaos.
          The  conference was covered in the press. There were good articles in Al Hayat, in Al Sharq Al Awsat and also in  The Independent. I  know that news of the conference reached very widely. The Prime Minister, Robin Cook and Jack  Straw knew about it. The people who I call the stars were really very good. President Orteen gave a paper on Mauritius as a secular state and the importance of Mauritius being a secular state. It has a population of about 1.2 million: Chinese, Hindus, Muslims and   Christians and there is no  dominant. community.  The president cheerfully involves himself in the celebrations of every community. When we heard this we all wanted to go down to the travel agent and book our holiday to Mauritius. It seemed a very civilised and pleasant place.
          One thing I did not know about Mauritius was that it was almost totally deserted until the early 18th century. It was gradually inhabited by people from Africa and migrants from India. So there are no original Mauritians. It is a country  composed almost totally of immigrants over the last 300 years.
          Princess Serwa was marvellous. I think it was her first appearance since the death of King Hussein and she was a little nervous and anxious but she  gave a fantastic performance. There was something particularly appropriate in her appearing. I mentioned how Lord Lloyd was involved in  the setting up of the Islamic Cultural Centre. Princess Serwa’s grandfather was Hassan  Surwati, who was the Muslim adviser to the Secretary of State  for India in the 1930s. He was the principal Muslim public servant in Britain. He was also one of the people involved in the setting up of the Islamic Cultural Centre in London. So it  was happily appropriate that his grand daughter was one of the stars of this conference.
          One other key speaker who was extremely good was Iqbal Ahmed Khan  the head of Islamic banking in HSBC. He talked about the inward flow of investment which is enormous. There are investments  in banks, assets, a huge amount of property  in which people from the Islamic world have invested  and  other  business interests. This was something that was new to a lot of us.  For example the Welcome Drake Chain of motorway cafes is an investment from Bahrain.
          Other things are better known like  Al Fayed’s Harrods and the London Hilton Hotel which is an investment from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.
          There is a huge amount of investment from the Islamic world in the private sector in this country.
          Tariq Ramadhan talked about how it is important for Muslims to take advantage of European and British culture.   Something like 95 percent of  what is  available is perfectly acceptable for a conservative Muslim like  himself.
          Another star I think was Tim Winter (also known as Abdul Hakim Rad) a youngish British convert who teaches Islamic studies at the University of Cambridge. Tim talked about aspects of Islam going back 300 – 400 years in this country. There had been interest in Islamic ideas among British or  English theologians in the 17 and 18th centuries and  there was an influence on the writings of Blake who used certain Islamic imagery. This was again a reminder that there is nothing new or alien about Islam in Britain.
          The conference as a whole was enjoyable, it was hard work, there was a high level of participation. I hope those who were there can vouch for this. There was hardly a  dull moment. It was full of good humour. There was no sense of polarisation or paranoia, there was no sense that anyone was being manipulated.
          .   I think it was also very good for networking. The sessions outside the formal sessions were busy. It was difficult to get people back to the plenary session. People were chatting, getting to know each other. I was quite moved by one thing that Sheikh Ezideen, Cultural Adviser to Sheikh Zayed in Abu Dhabi said when he  pointed out that you have not only brought Muslims and non-Muslims together, you have also brought Muslims and Muslims together.
          I mentioned the huge range of people  from different parts of the Islamic  World and the huge range of people from this country that were present at the conference.
          The final session which I arranged was what next? My own feeling and that of my colleagues is that conferences are very good but they should not  just  give birth to other conferences. It was very important to turn the whole idea of mutuality into something more concrete activity. I have for a long time felt that there is skill and expertise among British Muslims. I sometimes draw attention to the fact that the Muslim, Nasser Hussein, has captained England at cricket.  Last November he captained England in Australia.  He was vice-president of the tour, but he captained a number of the games. There is nothing to prevent a Muslim from reaching any area of distinction in this country. And something like cricket is very conservative and inward looking. Yet a Muslim can be a captain and he has been tipped as possible  captain of England. He was already captain of Essex which is not the most open of counties.
          Again another Muslim who has achieved enormous distinction and a lot of people are not aware that he is a Muslim  is Abdel Kadhir Ferah who was for many years the chief designer for the Royal Shakespeare Company. I noticed years ago the name Ferah on the programmes of the Royal  Shakespeare Company. It was only relatively recently when I met him at a party I realised that he was in fact an Algerian who had been in this country for over thirty years. Again the Royal  Shakespeare Company is something very British, very English and yet again a Muslim had a leading role.
          In addition one of the things that I was interested in and have been asking people about  is where have British Muslims achieved distinction. British Muslims perhaps  make up  three percent of the total country. In what areas is there a  greater than  three  percent representation?
          The answers I get are small business, in the professions (law and medicine) and  in sport. I mentioned Nasser Hussein. There is also Prince Nazeem the boxer and Chris Ubank. There are others of an Islamic background like Fatima Whitbread who comes from a Turkish  Cypriot background.
          I hardly need to mention to anyone in this room that London has become a major media capital of the  world, for both the Arab and Islamic press. Any aspiring journalist in the Arab world wishes to work in London. There are an increasing number of Muslims who are prominent in the mainstream press like Kamal Ahmed and Miss Badawi, the television presenter.
          Muslims are also found in local government,  where they have achieved a disproportionate impact. I am aware also, and it is brought to my attention,   that British Muslims include people below the poverty line. I think  this is not so much because they are Muslims but because of class. There are plenty of British  non-Muslims who are below the poverty line.
          But if you look at the nature of migration into any country very often the first generation and perhaps the second generation are low down in the socio-economic peaking  order.  But after two or three generations it works out quite levelly.
          If you look at Britain 80 years ago Jews were below the poverty line. This was because they were first generation migrants but in the course of time that evened out.
          As a first or a second generation migrant you haven’t built up all the networks  and the culture of being able  to do well. Individuals can do well and have done well, but in the mass I think the disadvantaged nature of Muslims is because of class rather than because of any other reason.
          But I will repeat again that the Muslims have had a disproportionate impact in a number of professions and a number of areas.The British Council,  where I worked for 31 years,  looks at the expertise of British Muslims and use them as part of our presentation of Britain overseas.
          There are other areas of mutual interest in addition to those which I have already mentioned like banking training. The British Council gets involved in a lot of training for people from overseas. Islamic banking training is a growth area. Harvard has a special course in Islamic banking. There is a course at the University of Lothborough,  which is worked out with the Islamic Foundation  in Leicester. But there are a lot of problems and issues. I think this is an area where  an Organisation like the British Council can become involved. Where can one link the interest overseas to the expertise that may exist in this country.
          Another area of mutual interest is the English language. I am told that on the pilgrimage the language is the English language. The signs are in Arabic and English but the language you hear most , the language that is most used between officials and pilgrims,  is English. Being a non-Muslim I have no way of verifying this. You may say that is true or it is a load of nonsense. I would be interested in your comments on this.
          But again English has become an auxiliary language for Islam. Of course Arabic is the language of the Koran.  But only about 25 – 30 percent of the world’s Muslims are Arabs. Huge areas such as South Asia and Africa as well as other parts of the world may have English as the second language rather than Arabic. Arabic is a kind of liturgical language but English is a significant langauge for Islam.
          These  are the areas I have suggested to my former colleagues at the British Council to look at and work more with the British Muslim community more.
          I think the timing for the conference, which attracted an enormous amount of interest,  was right. I think the action in Kosovo has united an interest of Britons in a very tragic way. The Muslims have a strong sense of pain over what is happening in Kosovo and this pain is  shared by a lot of people in this   country.
          I think also the  timing of the developments  in the Muslim   Council of Britain (MCB) which hosted the Prime Minister on May 5th with Jack Straw and   Sir Patrick  Condon for a party. I was privileged to be invited. It was really a very moving occasion. Cherie Blair was wearing a sharwal khamise which went down extremely well. Clearly there was a tremendous overlap of interests and the present government is listening to people. It is keen to include everybody. As one cynical political commentator put it, it is a big tent and Tony  Blair wants everybody to be in the big tent. But it does mean that he is trying to associate British Muslims with the government.
          And the government’s move, the development of the MCB was part of the timing of the conference.
          Emma Nicholson who was involved in the final session which she chaired said something extremely interesting. She said that tolerance is something rather negative. You tolerate something but you may prefer that it wasn’t  there. But you are being very noble in tolerating something. Whereas the concept of mutualities  goes far beyond that. You are working together, building up partnerships. And I think the conference was emphasising that togetherness.
          I would see the conference,  and other things that have been developing,  as a celebration of Muslims as part of the mosaic of modern Britain.
 141) of the EC Treaty laid down a general principle of equal pay for equal work for men and women.  It provides that men and women should receive equal pay, thus putting the principle on purely economic basis.
The social aim of the provision may be inferred from the preamble to the Treaty of Rome which states as an essential objective the improvement of living and working conditions of the peopes of the community.  This was confirmed by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Defrenne v Saberna (No.2) (Case 43175) [1976 Hill Sans Bold Condensed Gill Sans.

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