Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

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Thursday, December 08, 2005
Were they at the same event? Here is a selection of reports on the recent Global Peace and Unity conference organised by the Islam Channel and held in Docklands on 4 December.

Islam Online:

Thousands of British Muslims have turned out in huge numbers for an event promoting global peace, stressing to the world their faith is by no means a threat to any one.

Over 20,000 Muslims flocked into the ExCel arena in Docklands Sunday, December 4, for the first annual Global Peace & Unity Event.


Organizers of the event chose the theme of global peace in order to unite Muslims of all backgrounds, and bridge the gap between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

The amalgam of thousands of people from a multitude of backgrounds and religions helped achieve that aim, says IOL correspondent.

“When we first approached ExCel about hosting our event there, they did not agree. They thought, ‘Islam, Peace, Unity – They don’t go together,’” Mohamed Ali, CEO of Islam Channel said at a press conference. “Islam is a religion of peace and unity, and these are the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad.”

The choice of speakers and artists embodied the theme of the event, with prominent figures attending from India, South Africa, America, Kuwait, and many other countries.


Former Pakistani cricketers Saeed Anwar and Imran Khan drew many people to the event, as did world-renowned scholar, Dr. Zakir Naik.

Other speakers promoting peace and unity included Dr. Tariq Suwaidan, a Muslim scholar from Kuwait, in addition to national speakers such as Yvonne Ridley, George Galloway, MP, and Sir Iqbal Sacranie.

Song artists lightened up the atmosphere in the main arena with performances by Dawood Wharnsy Ali, Zain Bhika and Ahmad Bukhatir, while children enjoyed an indoor funfair of rides and games.

Carol Gould writing in Jewish

It was advertised as a diverse event to which non-Muslims were invited and the impression one got from the website was of a celebration of Middle Eastern culture, food, music and children’s activities in a London milieu.

To my utter horror -- and I should have written this report two days ago but my physical and emotional shock have rendered me nearly inert -- it was a seven-hour call to Jihad by a succession of ranting and shouting rabble-rousers.

The eminent barrister Michael Mansfield QC, wearing black and white keffiyah scarf, shouted into the mike about the heinous crimes of the Western coalition countries. The crowd chanted and thundered its appreciation.

The terrifying demagogue George Galloway ascended the podium and exhorted the crowd to stand up for the redemption of the oppressed Muslim world or else the nation had better get ready for ‘rioting in every street in Britain.’.

The ‘slaughter in Palestine and Iraq’ being only part of the equation, Chechnya, Bosnia and Kashmir were also mentioned all day by every speaker including a crazed, chador-clad Yvonne Ridley, who at any moment I expected to self-immolate, such was her fury at the Zionists, the Americans and her fellow Britons. To my utter disbelief, she condemned the British police force as some form of fascist brigade in ‘jackboot Britain.’

To all of these exhortations came cries of ‘Alllahu Akhbar’ from the enormous, simmering crowd of what looked to me like the angriest gathering of young men and women with whom I have ever had the misfortune to be seated in my lifetime.

It must be noted for non-British and non-Commonwealth readers that legendary cricketer Imran Khan’s arrival from Pakistan to give a speech would be the equivalent of a sporting megastar doing similar in an American arena. The crowd of some 20,000 adoring, mostly young British Muslims went mad with joy when he ascended the stage and took to the dais. What followed was a stream of invective about his own leader, Parvez Musharraf, Egypt’s leader Hosni Mubarak, and of course the ‘axis of evil’ Bush, Blair and allies. (It must be noted here that in May, when the controversy arose about American soldiers allegedly flushing a Koran down a lavatory, Khan’s power over world Islam was such that he gave one short speech and riots ensued across the globe, including the horrifying flag-burnings in London’s Grosvenor Square. )

Khan actually said we should feel the degradation of modern Muslims in the context of Hitler and the Germans after Versailles. He used this example to accentuate the reason for ‘Muslim rage’ -- there was poor Germany belittled and humiliated, like the Muslim world today. He recounted being confronted by a fellow Pakistani after 9/11 who asked, ‘Do you not feel ashamed?’ and he told the adoring crowd he did not see what there was to be ashamed of, and anyway, 9/11 was an excuse for the criminal Washington neocons to start a New Crusade against Islam.

To illustrate the level of extremism to which this event had degenerated, one of the organisers actually took the mike and said the event team wished to distance themselves from Khan’s 9/11 views.

The BBC:
The Muslim Council of Britain secretary general made his comments in a speech to an east London conference focusing on the role of Muslims in the UK.

But he added loyalty to the UK was not incompatible with the Muslim faith.

Met Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur and the Lord Chancellor Lord Falconer are among the other figures addressing more than 20,000 people at the Global Peace and Unity conference.

One thing that shocked me most was Imran's comment that poor Germany was so humiliated by Versailles that they could not be blamed for their rage, hence how can we condemn the 9/11 bombers? Even the organisers said into the mike after he had finished that they distanced themselves from his remark that '9/11 was a neocon cosnpiracy to have an excuse to start a new Crusade.'

A sheikh said that the greatest atrocity of the 20th century was 'Jews from eighty countries being brought in 1947 to Palestine to drive Muslim brothers and sisters from their homes and to kill and torture them.' He added that he can barely say the word 'Israel,' as such a country does not exist. All of this to ecstatic cries from the audience of mostly British-born young Muslims.

Galloway exhorted the crowd to 'riot on every street of Britain' and Ridley defamed our fine British police force in 'jackboot Britain.'

Joanna Bale in the Times:
Ken Livingstone, Michael Mansfield, QC, and the former Pakistan cricketers Saeed Anwar and Imran Khan were among the speakers promoting "global peace and unity".

Tariq Suwaidan, a Muslim scholar from Kuwait, echoed many of those who addressed the conference when he insisted that Muslims did not support the terrorists behind the 9/ll attacks in America and the London bombings in July.

I would be interested to know Imran Khan's exact words.