CAIRO – Opening their mosque doors to condemn violence in the name of Islam, the Muslim community in Bradford holds special prayers on Sunday, June 2, in the memory of a British soldier killed in a machete attack in London.
“What happened in Woolwich was horrifying,” Amjad Ali, one of the organizers at Bradford’s Jamia Masjid Hanfia Mosque, told The Telegraph & Argus.“There are no words to describe it and we hope and pray it never happens again.”
The event, themed “United We Stand”, brings together nearly 400 people of different religions and races.
Organizers say the event aims to show Muslim condemnations of violence in the name of their religion.
The event also aims to offer non-Muslims a chance to better understand the Islamic teachings.
“We want to say we don’t accept this and it is not in our name,” Ali said.
“We have been here a long time, this is our home and we do not want unrest in Bradford,” he added.
“The school of thought we follow shows no extremism against anybody.”
The Bradford mosque initiative to bring Britons of different religions closer is not the first.
Several mosques in Britain have opened their doors to welcome neighbors or even angry, anti-Muslim protesters.
In London, members of the North London Central Mosque have invited members of the far-right group English Defence League (EDL) to a friendly discussion about their concerns, reiterating Islam’s opposition to violence.
The invitation was similar to another one extended last week by members of York mosque who invited angry EDL members for refreshments, tea and biscuits inside the mosque.
British Muslims have been in the eye of storm since the machete killing of an army soldier by two converts of immigrant origin in Woolwich, near London.
According to Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim attacks in Britain, 212 “anti-Muslim incidents” have been reported after the Woolwich attack.
The figure included 11 attacks on mosques, in a series manifestation of anti-Muslim sentiments.
Bradford Muslim leaders confirmed that harmony would only be achieved through integrating Muslims in the society.
“We are going to highlight the importance of integration in society and that Muslims in Bradford stand for justice, peace and harmony,” Ali, one of the organizers, said.
He said the event is not their first effort to bring British people closer by offering true information about Islam and Muslims.
“We are trying to get as many people here from all races and religions,” Ali said.
"We will have three or four speakers, giving speeches in English about what’s happened and we will lay some flowers in Drummer Rigby’s memory.
“We will also remember our soldiers and follow countrymen. It is not ‘us and them’, we are all one.”
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million who have taken full brunt of anti-terror laws since the 7/7 attacks.
They have repeatedly complained of maltreatment by police for no apparent reason other than being Muslim.
A Financial Times opinion poll has showed recently that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.Despite growing challenges, a report published by the Head of UK government’s equality watchdog in 2011 found that Muslims are better integrating into the British modern, multi-ethnic, multicultural community than many Christians.
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