Last Sunday I spoke at the opening ceremony of the Acton Mosque. Anyone who has passed through Acton High Street in the past year will have seen the dome and minaret under construction.

It does not take much to imagine what this means to Acton's large Muslim community. After 30 years of worship and community activity from first a basement then a semi-derelict school they now have a purpose-built home of great beauty and quality. The calligraphy, tiling, space and light inside are inspiring.

The whole project cost £1.6m, entirely raised by private subscription. Speeches were given at the opening by Sadiq Khan, London's first Muslim MP and minister, by borough commander Sultan Taylor, by mosque elders and Islamic scholars, and the representatives of local Christian churches and the council attended to mark the day. When Aizal Haque, general secretary of the Acton Muslim Welfare Association, spoke he said it was the happiest day of his life and the culmination of 30 years' work.

But the opening of the mosque is important to the whole community not just Muslims. Firstly, it confirms a basic human right to practice your own religion not just unmolested but with dignity and in comfort.

Secondly, the mosque symbolises what is often thought missing in modern society: the ability of a community to pool its resources and work selflessly to achieve something greater than individual or selfish desires.

Thirdly, it gives parity of esteem in the constituency to one of the great world religions. You do not have to be of a particular faith or of any faith to understand that equality is the route to tolerance and mutual respect for all citizens.

In our history we have expelled the Jews, barred Catholics and atheists from holding public office and prohibited the practice of Islam. We live now in more enlightened times, but it is by celebrating our common values and freedom to express our differences, as we did on Sunday, that we cement those bonds.