Blackburn, United Kingdom (4/29/2005) - An unprecedented meeting took place today between Foreign Secretary of the UK, Mr. Jack Straw, and His Holiness Shaykh Mohamed Hisham Kabbani, deputy to Shaykh Muhammad Nazim al-Haqqani, world leader of the Naqshbandi Haqqani Sufi Order, which boasts a global membership of over 2 million students.
In a wide-ranging discussion, the two international figures exchanged views on a variety of issues including domestic concerns of England’s Muslim 1.5 million strong community, empowering moderate Muslims, who form a large but silent minority, around the world, and the initial successes in the emergence of democracy in the Arab world for the first time.
Shaykh Kabbani, thanking the Foreign Minister for the UK’s role in the Middle East said, “We are glad to see changes taking place in the political mechanisms in the Middle East. We hope to see an end to tyranny and we are happy to observe a strong upsurge in freedom of speech, freedom of belief and political openness in the region.”
Mr. Straw acknowledged Shaykh’s very courageous stance against Islamist extremism and his wise leadership of thousands of Muslims around the world including here in the UK. Both men agreed to continue their dialogue in the coming months and to specifically address the issue of encouraging British Muslims to exercise their equal rights as citizens of a free society and becoming an integral part of the rich social fabric of England.
Other participants in the meeting included Member of Parliament Lorna Fitzsimmons, Haras Rafiq a British Muslim community leader and owner of Bridges TV UK, and Hedieh Mirahmadi a foreign policy analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.