London mayor thanks Muslims for successful Olympics

LONDON: London Mayor Boris Johnson has thanked thousands of Muslim Londoners for helping to deliver the successful London Olympics through full participation and for bringing pride to Britain.

The newly-elected London mayor invited leading representatives from London’s Muslim communities to an evening reception at City Hall to celebrate Eidul Azha as well as to thank the Muslims for winning medals, volunteering and being part of the preparations and celebrations of the games.

“This year has been amazing for Britain due to the Olympics. We saw Muslims of all ages took part in these games as London team ambassadors, game-makers, volunteers who helped us to deliver the greatest Olympics games ever. There were Muslims everywhere. There were Muslim athletes who brought sheer amazement to the games through their courage and endurance,” Johnson told the audience.

Boris said the greatest moment of the games came when Mohammad Farah won two medals for Britain and united the whole country in a way never seen before. “This is a guy who came to London at the age of 8 from Somalia, saw terrible times in Somalia, he is now a national hero, he’s a Muslim and it’s a fantastic thing. There was a unanimous support from this country for a young Muslim. This place has changed in our lifetime and it has changed for better.”

He said that lot of work needs to be done to fight Islamophobia and improve attitudes towards Muslims and the legacy of the 2012 Olympics is aimed at helping this process. He said the arrears around the Olympics venue, where thousands of Pakistanis live, is undergoing a massive regeneration but at the larger scale the legacy will result into a cohesive culture, improved transport and better services for all. He said he would like to see “more participation in sport in our city by young Muslim boys and girls”.

Senior Foreign Office minister Baroness Sayeeda Warsi told the audience that Muslims had played their role in Britain’s national life starting from the World War 1 and continue to do so with passion. She said Pakistanis were prominent in the wars that were fought for Britain but they were also instrumental in reviving and rebuilding Britain’s economy in late 60s and 70s.

She pointed to the problems of Islamophobia and racism nearly 3 million Muslims in Britain face and thought that this country can become a better place when these challenges can be dealt with. She said she “fought” for her job in the FCO which also makes her responsible in relation to faith communities and how faith communities can be helpful in the progress of “our multi-cultural society”.