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Sunak praises Muslims as Gaza casts shadow on Eid

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PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak paid tribute to British Muslims as Eid was celebrated on Tuesday (9) at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

In his festive message, the prime minister also said Britain was making efforts to end the conflict in Gaza. Protests have been held for weeks across major cities in the UK, calling for a ceasefire and for more aid to be provided to Palestinians.

Sunak said, “I wish you all the joy of this festival that brings people together for thanks and reflection.

“At this special time, I want to say an enormous thank you, not just for your contribution in so many different fields, from the NHS, to business, politics and the armed forces, but for your generosity, hard work, commitment to service and for your compassion to those in need.”

The prime minister also said, “This year, many will be thinking particularly of those in Gaza. The bloodshed and suffering are unbearable.

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“I want you to know we are doing everything we can to help bring the conflict to an end, ensure the hostages are released and get life-saving food, shelter and medical aid to civilians in Gaza.”

The United Nations has warned of “catastrophic” hunger in the Palestinian territory, as Israel hunts down Hamas leaders behind the attacks on Israeli border communities on October 7.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said more than 33,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been killed in Israel’s military response. Hamas militants also took some 250 hostages, about 130 of whom remain in Gaza.

LEAD Sunak INSET Cleverly iftar celebrations 1
Home secretary James Cleverly hosts iftar at Downing Street

Huge demonstrations have been held in British cities over the conflict as protesters have called for a ceasefire and for aid to be delivered to civilians in the middle eastern region. As a consequence of the October 7 attacks, hate crimes against British Muslims have gone up in recent months.

Sunak said in his Eid message on Tuesday, “We’re working to make Britain’s Muslims feel secure and tackle sickening and utterly unacceptable hatred.

“That’s why we have committed over £29 million every year for the next four years to help protect the mosques, faith schools and community venues.”

He added, “But for now, as people gather together to pray and spend time visiting family and friends, I simply want to wish you – and Muslims around the world – a blessed and peaceful Eid.”

LEAD Sunak INSET Optional Cleverly iftar celebrations meal
Home secretary James Cleverly hosts iftar at Downing Street

Meanwhile, home secretary James Cleverly MP recently hosted a community iftar at Downing Street.

The event, held on March 27, was attended by 30 distinguished Muslims from all walks of life, who broke their fast and shared their experiences with the home secretary. Guests heard from Cleverly before indulging in a meal at the prime minister’s official residence. Unlike the previous year’s buffet-style affair, this year’s gathering took on a more intimate ambience.

The initiative was supported by the Conservative Muslim Forum (CMF).

Chairman Hashim Bhatti said, “This was an initiative I pioneered last year, and I am grateful that both No. 10 and the Home Secretary did all they could to make it happen again.

“It was a great way to bring together British Muslims from all walks of life to discuss matters important to the community, especially given the events in the Middle East. I am glad the Home Secretary took time to listen to our concerns and frustrations.”

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