On 22 September, more than 500 Labour supporters – including 13 members of the Shadow Cabinet – attended the 17th annual 'Diversity Nite' held alongside the Labour Party Conference in Manchester, sponsored by The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS). This colourful and energetic event is the brainchild of Keith Vaz MP – the longest-serving Labour MP from an Asian background – and celebrates the multiculturalism of contemporary British society. Mr Vaz is currently Chairman of the Home Affairs Committee in the UK Parliament and was formerly Minister for Europe under the last Labour Government. Other attendees included Ed Balls, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer; Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary; the Rt Revd Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester; and actors Shobna Gulati and Jimmi Harkishin, who play the characters Sunita and Dev from the television soap opera 'Coronation Street'.
Tahir Tagizade, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the UK, commented: “Azerbaijan is known in its region of the world as a land of diversity. It is acknowledged as a country that is tolerant and multi-ethnic. Tonight’s celebration of diversity is important – in diversity, there is unity.”
Jan Gamachek, Speaker, the Czech Parliament, said: “I have just travelled from London from a meeting with the Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP, my counterpart in the UK Parliament. Much of our conversation concerned the diversity between our two Parliaments. Understanding diversity can unite us and lead to co-operation.”
Chuka Umunna MP said: “The Labour conference would not be the same without Diversity Nite. The Labour Party aims to represent Britain today, and makes every effort to support the selection of ethnic minority MPs, and we celebrate this tonight.”
The concept of the event reflected the tolerance of Azerbaijan. Multiculturalism is an inherent element of contemporary Azerbaijani society, where many nationalities and religious faiths coexist in perfect harmony. Despite being a Muslim-majority country, last week Rabbi Mark Diamond, Director, Los Angeles region of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), wrote in the 'Jewish Journal': “We do well to celebrate the bonds that link Azerbaijan and the Jewish people. Our social media is inundated with alarming news about anti-Semitic violence in Germany, France and Belgium, and Islamic terrorism in Gaza, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere. Azerbaijan is a rare blessing and a ray of light in our deeply troubled world.