Thursday evening, the 17th of January 2013, saw the first time that the Rt Hon Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the Labour Party attended an ‘engagement’ meeting with the Muslim community. Over 500 hundred people representing over 300 organisations including women’s groups and youth groups from around the country converged at the Islamic Cultural Centre, Regents Park Mosque.
Accompanying Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP was the Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Justice Secretary the Rt. Hon. Sadiq Khan MP. A whole host of questions were asked from members of the Muslim community especially from women’s organisations and youth groups.
The meeting was an opportunity for the Muslim community to air its aspirations and concerns to Rt Hon Ed Miliband in a two-way conversation with ‘real’ and ‘tough’ community questions and with ‘real’ and ‘genuine’ answers from Rt Hon Ed Miliband – something that was, from the feedback of the meeting, greatly appreciated by the community.
Rt Hon Sadiq Khan said: "I want to thank the Islamic Cultural Centre and all the organisations and volunteers who helped arrange this landmark event. This is the first time a Leader of a mainstream Political Party in the UK has engaged in such an open and transparent fashion. I am really pleased that Labour Leader Ed Miliband has begun the New Year with an important visit to the Islamic Cultural Centre & London Central Mosque.”
He went on, “Ed set out in his major speech at the Labour Party Conference last year that he intends to be a One Nation leader of One Nation. And this includes having more Muslims in all positions of the Labour Party and using the talents of all in our country. It is welcomed that Ed is reaching out to British Muslims. He is not only keen to show how the Labour Party has changed and learnt the lessons of the past but also has the answers to some of the difficult challenges we face. I am pleased that Ed has given his commitment to look at some of the serious issues raised by the audience and to ensure the dialogue continues."
For many years the Muslim community has tried to positively engage with politicians and the Rt Hon Ed Miliband promised that he will engage with the Muslim community more regularly. His attendance, words and promises were very appreciated by those that attended and any future meeting will certainly be a welcome event.