Conservative Muslim Forum Event

I would like to welcome you all to this marvellous Tea in the grand surroundings of the House of Lords. We are fortunate that this event is being held on a fine day, and we have a good view of the River and the iconic surrounding buildings. During the pandemic, the Conservative Muslim Forum was not able to arrange any events. This is the first event we are holding, where we can have a real get-together, after a span of nearly 18 months. Indeed, this event has proved to be very popular, and it has been oversubscribed. Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate everyone who wanted to come.

We have with us Selcuk Ozcan and Ozge Demirkurt Atahan who are councillors from the Turkish Embassy. I am a friend of Turkey and know the Ambassador, His Excellency Umit Yalç?n, well. I am also a Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Turkey. We are also pleased that we have two CMF Patrons here in attendance with us, AKM Ismail and Khalid Javid, and both of them have contributed £1,000 to the Conservative Muslim Forum. I would also like to acknowledge the presence of 12 Ambassadors of the Conservative Muslim Forum, who have each contributed £250. We would like to thank the CMF Ambassadors for their generous donations to the Conservative Muslim Forum.

The Forum relies very much on the support of the Members, and their contributions are greatly appreciated. We are indeed looking for more Ambassadors and Patrons, and any offers would be gratefully received. Furthermore, we are of course looking for more members to join the Conservative Muslim Forum, and if you would like to do so, please contact our Executive Secretary Shaheen Thantrey. I established the Conservative Muslim Forum, and I was also a Chairman and Funder for nearly 10 years. I am now the President, and I am keen to support the CMF as much as possible.

The CMF is indeed a robust body, and has branches in Scotland, Peterborough and the Midlands. I am very pleased to announce, the CMF has now established a branch in the North-West, and we are arranging a Dinner on 4th October in Manchester to launch the Branch, at the spectacular Muslim Heritage Centre. The Branch was established 3 weeks ago. They have recruited 69 members. Their ambition is to recruit 100 members by the time the Conservative Party Conference is here. If anyone is attending the Conservative Party Conference, and would like to be invited to the Dinner, then please let Shaheen know.

Until recently, Faruk Miah, who is with us today, used to be the Chairman of CMF. But, since his promotion, he has had to relinquish the position, as he cannot be involved in any political organisations in his new position. I would like to express my thanks to Faruk Miah for all the hard work he put in to accelerating the activities of the CMF. When Faruk Miah resigned, Hashim Bhatti, who was the Deputy Chairman, was appointed as the Acting Chairman. We did hold our Extraordinary General Meeting, and Hashim Bhatti has been duly elected as the Chairman of CMF until the next AGM, which will be in 2023. I felt that Hashim Bhatti needed support from a Deputy Chairman and Vice-Chairman. I proposed that Naveed Asghar be nominated as the Deputy Chair, and Omar Bush serve as Vice Chair. I hope that Hashim Bhatti, Naveed Asghar and Omar Bush work effectively as a team to strengthen the activities of the Conservative Muslim Forum.

It is very important for us to accelerate our activities, now we are coming out of the lockdown restrictions. It has been decided, by the Executive of the CMF, that we should be affiliated with the Conservative Party. It is our intention to work closely with Conservative Party Headquarters, in order to promote the Party to Muslims as well as non-Muslims. The Conservative Party established an Inquiry under Professor Singh, to look into various issues relating to Muslims in the Party. Professor Singh’s Report found flaws within the Headquarters, as well as at branches, and the Party has worked out an action plan of remedial actions within certain time limits.

It is our intention to work with the Party to implement the recommendations of Professor Singh. Hashim Bhatti will work in conjunction with Chloe Schendel-Wilson, to see how we can work effectively with Headquarters. I hope to meet with the new Chairman of the Party, Oliver Dowden, as soon as possible. On my side, however, I will reiterate my support for the CMF, and of course I will continue championing Muslims in the House of Lords and speak on issues which are of concern to us.

Finally, I would like to say that I have established a Charity, which is called The National Muslim War Memorial Trust. The objectives of the Trust are as follows. To erect and maintain a public national war memorial to commemorate the service of Muslims in Britain’s Armed Forces. Also, to educate the public about the contribution of Muslims during both World Wars and subsequent conflicts. We have a very high-profile Board of Trustees, as well as young Associate Members. The Trust is also being supported by the Government, as well as the Mayor of London. We have issued a Press Release and Brochure, and launched an excellent Website.

The Muslims were a significant part of the British Armed Forces during both World Wars. By telling and building the story of their heroic service, we will help to build a better Britain for everyone. We can dispel misconceptions and foster harmony between different people and communities. Furthermore, we believe that by doing what we have proposed we will also assist in combating Islamophobia. We are looking for support, as well as donations. I have personally supported the Charity, financially and also in many other ways. I am not asking you to do something which I am not prepared to do myself. On each table, there are details of the Charity, and I hope you will be able to support it. Thank you.