Muslim peace conference condemns terrorism

A queue for the conference Some 12,000 people attended the conference

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Thousands of Muslims have attended a peace conference in London which has condemned terrorism.

About 12,000 Muslims gathered at Wembley Arena for Islamic group Minhaj-ul-Quran's Peace for Humanity Conference.

The conference launched a campaign to get one million people to sign an online declaration of peace by 2012.

Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri said the conference would send a message that 10 years of extremist activity should end.

'Love and smiles'

Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri is the founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran and gave the keynote speech at the event, despite having received death threats after issuing a fatwa - or religious ruling - against terrorism last year.

The cleric was repeatedly applauded during his address in which he said the "terrible" 9/11 attacks in the US had distorted perceptions of Islam over the past decade.

Analysis

Normally it's pop stars who attract the big crowds at Wembley Arena. Today it is the renowned Islamic scholar Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri.

You can even see posters of him on the buses travelling through the streets near the stadium.

But his message is a serious one. He preaches that there are no conditions under which extremism and the violence it endorses can be excused.

It's a message that has found a big audience here at Wembley but one which has ironically made him the subject of death threats from those who don't believe in peace.

He told the audience: "In spite of statements and memorandum and condemnation of the terror, the voices of the 99% true, peace-loving Muslims have not been heard, they have been drowned out by the clamour and the noise of extremists.

"Islam has nothing to do with any act of terrorism. We reject every act of extremism and terrorism unconditionally."

The event, which took one year to organise, was attended by people from across the UK, many of whom arrived in coaches.

Those who attended heard a series of lengthy and impassioned speeches, some in Arabic, from Islamic scholars denouncing terrorism and extremism.

Ghazala Hassan al-Qadri, president of the MQI Women's League, told attendees: "Islam teaches love, it teaches compassion, it teaches tolerance, it teaches mercy."

Another speaker - Egypt-based Islamic scholar Shaykh Hassan Mohi-ud-Din Qadri - told the conference: "Islam is a religion of justice, not a religion of injustice... is a religion of manners and co-operation, not a religion of extremism and radicalisation... is a religion of forgiveness and pardon, not a religion of brutality and revenge."

Messages of support

The audience heard pre-recorded messages of support from, amongst others, Prime Minister David Cameron, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, opposition leader Ed Miliband, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

And there were prayers for peace from representatives from a number of different religions including the Bishop of Barking, the Rt Rev David Hawkins, Jewish rabbis and representatives from the Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh faiths.

The declaration of peace included a call for democracy and good governance in the Muslim world, respect for human rights, and alleviation of poverty throughout the world.

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