EP names British Muslim as special representative

BRUSSELS, Jan 26 (KUNA) — The President of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament, Gianni Pittella, announced here Tuesday the appointment of British Muslim MEP Afzal Khan as his special representative to Muslim Communities in Europe.
“With the nomination of Afzal Khan as my personal representative to Muslim Communities, I would like to emphasize the importance we attach, as European Socialists and Democrats, to the integration of the Muslim communities in Europe. We will continue to work for an inclusive and tolerant European Union to tackle and prevent marginalization, racism and radicalization,” Pittella said at the event held in the EP “We are all human beings with common aspirations and concerns living within the EU common framework of values and principles. Religion cannot be a division in Europe, but should be a symbol of Europe’s diversity” he said.
“The Muslim share of Europe’s population is at 6.5 percent and increasing. This is a young population concerned with questions of identity, equality and justice,” said the leader of the second-largest party in the EP with 190 members.
“Islam and Muslims have enriched Europe and they are part of it. However, we must also care about people beyond our borders. Afzal Khan will help assure that internationally, we are seen as supportive of building fair, inclusive and prosperous societies,” added Pittella.
On his part, Khan said “Muslims have enriched this continent for centuries, and through their knowledge and hard work, have contributed to the rich mosaic that is Europe today.” “As our generation faces unprecedented security and co-existence challenges, it is the time to double efforts to tackle them through dialogue among our diverse communities. As a proud British and European Muslim, I look forward to serving as a bridge connecting and inspiring peoples and organizations,” he said.
“In the coming weeks and months, I am going to meet with leaders of Muslim communities from France, Germany, UK, Italy and Denmark, exploring ways to better work together to meet the common challenges of our generation,” said Khan, 57, who is of Pakistani origin and is the vice chair of the EP’s Subcommittee on Security and Defense.
“We need to make sure that we reach out to the 20 million Muslims who live in Europe. Secondly to us this responsibility is also to reach out to the Muslim world as well and to make sure to strengthen the EU ties with the Muslim world,” he added.
Frans Timmermans , first vice president of the European Commission , who also attended the event said in his speech that the appointment of a special representative for Muslims communities in Europe is of “extreme importance.” A large number of Brussels-based of ambassadors and diplomats from the Arab and Muslim world attended the event. (end) nk.rk