UK Appoints First Muslim Cabinet Minister UK Appoints First Muslim Cabinet Minister Shalid Malik became the first Muslim to assume a ministerial portfolio in the British parliament, when he was appointed by the new UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Malik is minister of state for international development in the new British cabinet. He is in charge of UK relationships and policies for the Middle East, Latin America, South Asia, China, and Russia. The Arab world has recognized his interest in Palestinian affairs. In an interview with Mina al-Urayba for the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Malik said he monitored the Palestinian legislative elections. He said he has been deeply saddened by recent events in Gaza. Malik underlined, in the newspaper exclusive, the 40th anniversary of occupation of Palestinian lands demands additional efforts be made to assist the Palestinians. The new British minister said his appointment showed â€œBritain is a society built on merit and competence. My appointment proves to Muslims and the working class that one can succeed in British society through merit and competence.â€ (Malik was raised in a limited-income Pakistani family.) Malik gained his first prominence in 2001 when rioting occurred in the northern city of Burnley. While Malik tried to calm the angry young men, mostly Muslim, he was mistakenly beaten and arrested by police. That incident saw him adopted as the voice of British Muslims. In his press briefing, Malik spoke of his recent visit to Yemen. â€œI was very well received, and a number of Yemeni officials said the appointment of a Muslim minister exemplifies â€˜Britainâ€™s greatness.â€™ When I visit the Islamic world, officials and the general public can communicate with me and through the British Government, and that is a very positive thing.â€ â€œWe also want to send the message (to terrorists) that matters are proceeding normally and that the murder of innocent civilians will not end our support for Yemen,â€ he said. Malik served as an observer for the Palestinian elections in 2006 which Hamas won. â€œFor those like me who monitored the elections, our hearts ache over the situation today, especially after the optimism we sensed in those days, when Nablus was closer to Notting Hill (a London neighborhood) and there were more women than men in the streets,â€ he said. â€œIt needs to be understood that if Hamas wants to be treated seriously, then it must bear its responsibilities, and Hamas clearly knows what is expected of it in respect to the conditions set by the International Quartet,â€ he added. (By Ron Ross, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, August 15, 2007) Prayer Focus Pray that Muslim leaders who obtain positions of authority and influence in democratic nations will be led by wisdom and a genuine desire to bring peace and assurance to their constituents. Scripture â€œThe fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures foreverâ€ (Psalm 111:10).