David's article for the Bucks Free Press

"Two events last week reminded me of the work that we still need to do to break down barriers between people of different ethnic backgrounds and religious faiths - and also why we have cause for hope.

"The Muslim News is this country's biggest Muslim newspaper. I was asked to speak at its annual awards ceremony in London.

"I know from talking to Muslim constituents here in Bucks that they feel hurt and offended that most reporting about Islam in Britain focuses on extremism and terrorism. No reasonable person denies the importance of those issues but the picture needs to be a balanced one.

"There is no contradiction between being a loyal and active citizen of the United Kingdom and being a devout Muslim. Both locally and nationally we are seeing more and more British Muslims placing a leading role in the mainstream of civic, political, professional and business life.

"Look at the role models: from Sir Mo Farah setting yet another British record in the London Marathon to Mishal Hussein subjecting political leaders to a grilling on the  Radio 4 Today programme.

"But for me the role model of the last twelve months was Mohammed Mahmoud, Imam of the Finsbury Park mosque. When a man set on mass murder drove his van into a crowd of worshippers, Mohammed stretched out his arms to protect and shelter the attacker. His action stopped anger from generating more violence and ensured that the man responsible was judged by law, tried and sentenced to life. That Imam represented the best of Islam and the best of British.

"The second event was the memorial service to mark 25 years since the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence. It is a cause of shame that his family had to fight for so long o get justice for their son. And we cannot be content with a situation in which so many people in Britain's black communities feel that the criminal justice system is unfair to them.

"But what shone through at the service was how the Lawrence family have built something positive out of brutal tragedy. We heard from three young black people how the Stephen Lawrence Foundation had given them new opportunities for education and rewarding careers.And the words from Stephen’s mother and brother were of the need to keep working and fighting for justice and reconciliation.

"A good lesson for us all."