Bringing 50,000 Muslims from around the world, the third Global Unity and Peace (GUP) conference opened in the British capital London on November 24, with a focus on correcting stereotypes on Islam and British Muslims. “The Global Unity and Peace is an opportunity to present a true image of British Muslims amid a torrent of negative media reports,” GUP director Mohamed Ali said.
“When Islamophobia is on the upswing in Britain, such meetings are of vital importance,” added Ali, also president of Islam Channel, the organiser.
The two-day gathering, held at the Excel Conference and Exhibition Centre, brings together luminaries and celebrity guests from the four corners of the globe. Prominent among attendees are Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled and Saudi scholar Sheikh Salman Al-Oudah. Celebrity Muslim singers will also take part in the event including Yusuf Islam, Jermaine Jackson, brother of US pop star Michael Jackson, and Malikah Shabazz, the daughter of Malcolm X. Also attending are British government officials, including Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair.
“We seek to liaise with British authorities and parliamentarians, and send the message that there is no contradiction whatsoever between being a devout Muslim and a good British citizen,” said Ali.
Exhibitions, entertainments and contests are held on the sidelines of the two-day event. Britain’s “Model Mosque” will be announced at the closing day. Frontrunners are Birmingham’s Green Lane mosque and the grand mosque in Bradford. Many British Muslims have also registered with the Qur’an memorization contest.
The extravaganza includes a book fair featuring hundreds of books on the life history and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).