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David Miliband(Archived), London
Around 20,000 Muslims from across the UK and Europe gathered together to celebrate their faith and the message of peace it embodies for them. Such scenes were replicated all over the world- the Mawlid is an official holiday in over 50 countries. The fact that such a large event was taking place on the streets of London speaks to the interconnectedness of of modern global society, and to the rich diversity of Britain in particular.
During my speech I spoke about the values of Islam as reflected in the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. Themes such as compassion, charity and understanding are relevant to all of us, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
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On Tuesday I launched the British Hajj Delegation, together with the Saudi Ambassador, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf, Lord Patel of Blackburn and Dr Syed Mohiud-din. This is the 10th year that Lord Patel has led the delegation. I am grateful to him, and to the doctors, who give their time and expertise to British Pilgrims at the Hajj.
The Hajj delegation supplements our consular efforts in Saudi Arabia. The number of cases inevitably increase significantly during the Hajj, when there are up to 20,000 - 25,000 additional British Nationals in Saudi Arabia. The Delegation does a grand job in handling these additional cases and, when necessary, providing medical assistance. H1N1 is a concern this year but, as with previous years, the Saudis are providing free medical care for anyone that needs it.
The Hajj Delegation is an important commitment from the Government to the thousands of British Muslims that attend the Hajj every year. It underlines the UK's commitment to all its communities, faiths, nations, beliefs or viewpoints. And it's a great advertisement for British Islam.
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