Bahai News - Bahá'ís receive message from Prime Minister at new year's reception in House of Commons
Bahá'ís receive message from Prime Minister at new year's reception in House of Commons
LONDON, 11 April 2002 (BWNS) -- In a message commemorating the Bahá'í New Year, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair commended the Bahá'í community of the United Kingdom for its "significant contribution" to
multiculturalism and interfaith dialogue.
The message was read at a reception on 21 March 2002 in the House of Commons, which was attended by nearly 100
The gathering was sponsored by the All Party Parliamentary Friends of the Bahá'í Faith, and participants
included members of the British parliament and other government officials, as well as representatives of
non-governmental organizations and members of the media.
John Battle MP, the prime minister's advisor on interfaith matters, read the Prime Minister's message.
"I have a clear vision of a multi-cultural Britain -- one which values the contribution made by each of our
ethnic, cultural, and faith communities," stated Mr. Blair, as read by Mr. Battle. "I am determined to see a
truly dynamic society, in which people from different ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds can live and
work together, whilst retaining their distinctive identities, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and
"British Bahá'ís make a significant contribution towards achieving this vision and we are a stronger, better
country because of it. It is particularly important that we celebrate the contribution of the Bahá'í faith to
the stability and prosperity of British society as a whole.
"I am very encouraged by the vision the Bahá'í community demonstrates in recognizing the power of interfaith
dialogue and the importance of all citizens fulfilling their potential. Your community has a vibrancy which is
well demonstrated by the recent opening of the Bahá'í Gardens on Mount Carmel in Israel. It is an outstanding
monument to your faith," said Mr. Blair's statement.
At the reception, Barney Leith, Secretary General of the Bahá'í Community of the United Kingdom, welcomed
participants and talked about the UK Bahá'í community's Institute for Social Cohesion, an initiative to
facilitate dialogue between entities that are working towards building stronger societal bonds in the United
MP Lembit Opik, Chair of the All Party Friends of the Bahá'ís, welcomed the people to the reception and spoke
of his esteem for the Bahá'í community.
"The Bahá'ís seem to have a uniquely positive image among religious believers," Mr. Opik said. "Personally I
feel that this is because Bahá'í teachings fit human nature rather than trying to change it."
The All Party Friends of the Bahá'ís was formed in 1999. The group is open to members of Parliament, peers, and
members of the European parliament and was formed largely in response to the persecution of the Bahá'ís in Iran
and other states.
This was the third reception held the Bahá'ís in the Parliamentary building, but was the first held on the
terrace of the House of Commons, the most prestigious parliamentary venue for this type of event.
Omid Djalili, a Bahá'í actor and comedian, was the guest speaker for the evening. He performed a ten-minute
stand-up comedy routine about world culture and the humor inherent in diversity.
Bahá'ís celebrate their new year on 21 March; the date coincides with the vernal equinox and the traditional
beginning of Spring. The Bahá'í calendar, which was established by Bahá'u'lláh, the Prophet-Founder of the
Faith, is based on nineteen months of nineteen days, with four intercalary days.
©Copyright 2002, Baha'i World News Service
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