Dozens of members of the community from different faiths and backgrounds attended an event celebrating tolerance, multiculturalism and understanding at the Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira Mosque in Hardy Street, Beeston Hill.
The annual community event saw speakers attend from a wide variety of backgrounds, from Muslims to Christians and Jews, from members of the Asian community to representatives from the growing Lithuanian community in the area. The event coincides with Muslims celebrating the festival of Eid -Ul –Adha in remembrance of prophet Abraham’s readiness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God.
It featured a number of guest speakers, including the Imam, and representatives from Leeds Faiths Forum, Leeds City of Sanctuary, Holy Spirit Church and Leeds Summat, as well as local politicians. The evtn finished with a tour of the mosque and a feast of food and networking.
MP Hilary Benn spoke about a common bond between people of all faiths, and highlighted a recent lantern march for world peace by pupils from five primary schools in Little London, where people of all faiths united in a common goal. He said:
“As we were walking through the streets, people were coming to the windows to see what was happening. They thought it was some sort of protest, but then they saw we were smiling and they started smiling and waving at us.
“This is why we’re here at this event today – for a society that comes together, where we know our neighbours, and we see each other and exchange stories and realise that inside we are all the same and we celebrate our common humanity today.”
Councillor Ghulam Hassain, of Leeds City Council, spoke about Leeds being a multi-faith and diverse city that should be proud of the equality it offers its residents. Fellow councillor Mohammed Iqbal said he had been in Leeds for 42 years and said he had many friends with different backgrounds – Hindu, Sikh, Jewish and Christian. He added:
“We must not stereotype people. No religion preaches hate – human greed and ignorance divides us, not religion. All our needs and requirements are the same, we are all people of God.”
Mahboob Nazir, from the mosque, said the event was about challenging myths about different relkigion and breaking down barriers. He added:
“Here at this mosque we are working hard to overcome myths, break down barriers and increase knowledge of each other’s faiths and increase friendship. You can’t hate a person without knowing them.”
There were also speakers from Leeds Faiths Forum, who spoke about the importance of workign together and communicating with each other. Ed Carlisle spoke about Leeds – one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country – becoming a City of Sanctuary. Mr Carlisle said:
“Leeds has not always welcomed people as warmly as it could have. That’s why we’re hoping to make Leeds a City Of Sanctuary, where people will feel warmly welcomed and supported. We have so much to learn from each other, we need to start talking and understanding each other better.”
Jenny Hill, from Leeds council, encouraged everyone present to become part of the Leeds citizens’ panel, which gives residents a say in public sector services.
The Imam of the Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira Mosque, Qari Muhammed Sajaad Rumi, concluded the speeches by speaking about the importance of the community coming together, breaking down barriers and building closeness.