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Conference message from British Muslims At the Global Peace & Unity Conference in London

Dr. Mozammel Haque

20,000 Muslims attended the Global Peace & Unity Event organized by Islam Channel, the first and only English language Islamic television channel, on Sunday, the 4th of December 2005, at the Excel Conference Hall in London. The event was the largest gathering of Muslims and non-Muslims for an event of this caliber in Europe.

Eminent speakers from different parts of the globe including the Muslim World, Europe, the US and the UK participated in the Event. Islamic scholars such as Dr. Zakir Naik from India, Yusuf Estas and Yasir Gadhi from USA, spoke in the conference. Qazi Hussain Ahmed of Jamat-e-Islam Party of Pakistan and Ejaz ul Haq, Pakistan’s Federal Minister of Religious Affairs spoke via satellite linkup.

Also speaking were two cabinet ministers, Mike O’Brian, MP, Lord Falconer, Lord Chancellor and leaders of different political parties, such as Simon Hughes, MP of Lib-Dem, George Galloway, MP of Respect, Lord Nazir Ahmed and Sadiq Khan, MP, also spoke at the Event. Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London sent his message which was read out. Michael Mansfield, QC, Judge Khurshid Drabu, Tariq Ghaffour, Assistant Metropolitan Commissioner, Daoud Abdullah from the Palestinian Return Centre, London and Imam Ibrahim Mogra also addressed the gathering..

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain, spoke about anti-terror laws. “We believe these laws are the draconian laws…., we tell them that we agree with the objective to bring end of terror but the methods that are being used are counter-productive; because they are aimed at the community entirely. You cannot criminalize the entire community for the criminality that has been created by a few which has been condemned utterly and totally.”

Referring to the consultation paper giving the government the power to close down the place of worship, Sir Iqbal said, “This is the most single dangerous piece of legislation if ever it comes into place; because it will give power to the government to close down the place of worship, to close down the mosques. There is no iota of evidence in this country, of the 200 mosques that we have; there is not a single mosque that has taken out act of violence, promoting violence, promoting terrorism, and then why the government does has to take all this legislation to close down the House of Allah.”

Lord Falconer focused on diversity and social cohesion. “We can disagree and we disagree much. But we must be able to live together as one community. We must be able without loss of identity to integrate into one community Today’s event recognizes we are at our best. Our society is strengthened by our diverse cultures like its religious beliefs. We must promote diversity at every level that we want to remain strong. Unity is the same as uniformity; it feeds the same, dress the same or looks the same. Unity is about the common ground, joining together, respect each other, standing up what we belief and living together in one community; secure in our society whether or not we agree with the policy of the government.”

Minister Mike O’Brian, MP, also spoke on multiculturalism and common humanity. “To be British today is to be a part of the multicultural society and we are stronger as a country because of our diversity. And those like the British National Party which rejects multicultural Britain are by nature un-British,” Mike O’Brian said and added, “The close association of Muslims, Islam and Britain both historically and today demonstrates to me that there is no incompatibility between a Muslim identity and a British identity.”

“One of Muslim friends recently quoted to me the supplication recited by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) after every prayer said, “Allah, You are peace and from You comes peace, and to You goes back peace and cause me to live in peace.” Support for that message of peace is what I see in this room today. The Acts of terrorists on the 7th of July and those indeed in the world are an anathema to this beautiful and indeed the universal prayer of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him. It is a prayer shared by all the religions of the world,” said Mike O’Brian.

Lord Nazir Ahmad of Rotherham, said, “When our government tells us to speak English in the Mosque, they are right but they are wrong when the government tells us that they will close down mosques. They are right to criticize those who destroyed the Buddha statue in Afghanistan, but they are wrong to remain silent on the issue of desecration of the Holy Qur’an. They are right to suggest we should tackle extremism together, but they must hold a public inquiry with those who are involved in the Working Groups. We should thank the government on their policy on Kosovo and Turkey, but we should be able to criticize their policy on Iraq, Afghanistan and other foreign issues. We welcome Prime Minister’s comments in relation to Guantanamo Bay as an anomaly that needs to be an end, but this should be across other issues like Abu Ghraib, secret torture in Eastern Europe.” He also added, “For us the greatest example is when the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that Hudaibiyah is the greatest victory for Muslims.”

Yasir Qadhi, said, “They were angry because of the injustices happened to the Muslims. They did not have knowledge how to react to that anger. They did things which they should not have done. They have brought problems to other Muslims. If they have knowledge they would know that our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) while he was living in Makkah, while he was being tortured and persecuted, our Prophet in the Makkan era never respond with violence and terror. They did not know what Islam stands for. O Muslims, Islam is about worship of Allah and not about the killing of people.”

Tariq Swaidan, an Islamic scholar from Kuwait, said, “Those few terrorists do not represent the Islamic movement nor are representative of Islam and Muslims. We totally refused to be looked upon as terrorists. We totally refused that these terrorists represent us.”

“We consider these people with the 9/11 or 7/7 or other areas in Muslim world itself as enemy of Islam because they have hurt the Muslims and Islam and hurt the Islamic movement more than our enemies have” he said and added, “Global unity to us is not the dominance of the West. That is also totally refused and despite our differences the Muslim community is united in seeking justice for Palestine.”

Two Pakistani former cricketers also addressed the Event. Leader of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf Party, Imran Khan, elaborated his view on the 9/11 conspiracy, whilst Saeed Anwar spoke about change from inside.

In his concluding speech, Dr. Zakir Naik, the Islamic scholar of comparative religions, inspired the audience who were eagerly waiting to hear him all day. Dr. Naik applauded the initiatives taken by the British Muslims to propagate the true message of Islam by event such as this conference. Mohammad Ali, Director of the Islam Channel expressed his gratitude to the Muslim community for making the event a great success. Islam Channel was launched 18 months ago in 2004 by Prince Turki al-Faisal, the former Saudi Ambassador to the United Kingdom & Ireland at the Islamic Cultural Centre, London and its popularity is growing amongst the British Muslims.