We should be proud of our tolerance, equal rights and women rights, Dr Liam Fox told a conference on extremism held in Bradford on the anniversary of 9/11.
Dr Liam Fox with conference organiser and Lay Canon at Wakefield Cathedral, Canon Yaqub Masih
The former Defence Secretary shared the stage with Dr Shoaib Suddle, Chief of the Police Association in Pakistan and former Director General of the Intelligence Bureau in Pakistan and an International Speaker on Terrorism, and Supt Vince Firth of Bradford’s Reducing Crime and Re-offending Group.
The conference was organised by New Horizons, a charity led by the Area Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson and a lay canon at Wakefield Cathedral and Huddersfield business man, Canon Yaqub Masih, and it works to build bridges between faiths.
Bishop Tony opened the conference with prayers and a Bible reading and said: “This Conference could not have come at a better time as we witness such awful events happening in our world at the present time. All people of good will must stand up and be counted as we combat those who are doing these things in the name of religion.”
Over 200 people heard the three main speakers paint a picture of the impact extremism can have on the national, international and local stage.
Dr Liam Fox said he was a Christian and proud of his faith and Values and he believed our culture was improving all the time.
Speaking on the International perspective, Dr Shoaib Suddle explained that Extremism and Intolerance in Pakistan came at the time of General Zia Ul Haq, when to defeat the Soviet Union all the terrorist groups came into Pakistan, and he was assisted by EU and USA. After the defeat of Soviet Union, they never looked back.
“In Pakistan you cannot get rid of extremism until our justice system is right, because people who don't get the justice, end up taking actions into their own hands by becoming terrorists,” he said.
And he warned parents to keep a close eye on their children.
Canon Masih said he believed there was much tension among different faiths and in different countries which was affecting international peace and harmony and causing unrest in the world it has never been more important to seek amicable rapprochement between the faiths.
“This can only be achieved by discovering new ways of bringing together, in common humanity, people of differing religious convictions.
“‘New Horizons’ acknowledges that it cannot change the whole of society, but working on the principle of ‘think global, act local’ it can make a difference,” he added.
“We felt it was important to thank God for this nation for welcoming us with open arms and making us part of this nation of people from different faiths and different cultures can celebrate together and we should be proud of our faiths and values and should not have any fear of offending others or creating tension and hate in the communities and secondly we are not guests in this country we are the fellow citizens who have made this nation as our home therefore it is our responsibility to make sure that no one damages or undermines our home,” he said.
Canon Masih urged Dr Liam Fox to take this message back to the Government and wanted assurances that those who commit crimes in the name of religion must be punished according to the law.
Closing the meeting, Bishop Tony quoted the 18th century Irish statesman and Member of Parliament: "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent."
“I call on all those who attended the conference to stand up and work together to combat extremism of any form and to work together here in Britain to set an example for the rest of the world. The Queen summed it up well when she said: 'Religions can never become vehicles of hatred, that never by invoking the name of God can evil and violence be justified.' Today, in this country, we stand united in that conviction. We hold that freedom to worship is at the core of our tolerant and democratic society,” he added.