On 21st May 2018, Lord Ahmed tabled an Oral Question ‘To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to encourage Iran and Saudi Arabia to work together to bring peaceful solutions to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.’ The Bishop of Worcester, the Rt Revd Dr John Inge, asked a follow up question:
The Bishop of Worcester: My Lords, does the Minister accept the continuing pressing need to improve religious literacy, not least concerning Sunni and Shia, within and without Whitehall if we in this country are properly to understand, let alone address, the problems to which reference has been made?
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon: The right reverend Prelate makes an important point. There are many wise voices when it comes to the tragic conflict that we sometimes see being played out by different denominations within the context of Islam. I remind noble Lords that there are 73 different denominations in Islam, but Shia and Sunnis represent the majority. In this regard, any dialogue is positive. A few months back, as part of my responsibilities at the Foreign Office, I looked at the important issue of countering extremism. Together with the Vatican, we invited to Rome scholars from both the Sunni and Shia voices of Islam to give productive and practical suggestions on the way forward.