Sajjad attended and spoke at the re-launch of the Manchester Council of Mosques, held at Manchester Town Hall yesterday. The MCOM represents the established mosques in Manchester and it is the gateway to Manchester’s Muslim community.
The launch was opened by Chair of MCOM, Qadri Chohan talking about the importance of MCOM, unity and community cohesion.
Sajjad spoke covering the misconceptions of Islam as a religion and the need to challenge the often deliberate negative spin on stories peddled by the media.
Saj commented that there is a need for organisations like the Manchester Council of Mosques, to present to the general public who may not necessarily have the time or the inclination to look at the depth of what is involved, in a very concise straightforward way that we as a community are actually wanting exactly what they want as well. No more and no less than equality.
He encouraged members to grab this opportunity and come together as a community along with our other religious communities and take the case for religion, not just Islam but for religion as a whole and put it within the overall context of rights of citizens.
Other speakers included Heather Fletcher, Co-Chair of the Manchester Muslim Jewish Forum which is encouraging cohesion between the two faith for the common good.
Chief Constable Peter Fahey highlighted the common misunderstanding that extremism is a ‘Muslim issue’.
“Our greatest strength throughout the United Kingdom and Europe has always been our diversity.
It has always been the ability of all of us to be able to hold our own views and express them.
But there has always been an underlying acceptance that we will operate within the bounds of what is acceptable and what is respectable for others, never openly going on a mission to try and cause hurt and harm to others.
So why it is that today as a Muslim community we find ourselves on the back foot, even though we are in the right?
When I stand in the European Parliament and I hear all these voices coming that somehow it is us that is trying to suppress the rights of our fellow citizens across Europe. I find it absolutely astounding that things can be this way today, when we are not doing any such thing. What we are asking for is nothing more than common decency which ought to be afforded amongst citizens regardless.
That is why there is an absolute need for organisations exactly like the one that is being re-launched here today, the Manchester Council of Mosques, to be able to come and present in a proper way to the general public who may not necessarily have the time or the inclination to look at the depth of what is involved here and present for them in a very concise straightforward way that we as a community are actually wanting exactly what they want as well. No more and no less than equality – simply on an equal basis.
I hope that through this platform in Manchester that we are going to be able to challenge the media, because we do need to challenge the media and the way that it has been operated. Don’t just take my word for it, go and see the findings of the Levison enquiry and you will find there are certain sections of the media that have been leading a direct attempt, even falsifying stories in order to present the Muslim community in a certain light, a certain negative light.
I can certainly tell you, having spent 20 years in elected office, throughout that period there have been many times when events have happened and the media have been in touch asking for a comment, but ultimately the person appearing on the television screen that night is not one of the nine people talking sense, it has been the one idiot who has an agenda and the media has fulfilled that agenda. Ultimately it is all of us, not just Muslims, who lose out as a direct result of what has been happening there.
We have a unique opportunity at this moment in time. Possibly as Muslims we have not had this sort of opportunity available to as before – to actually reach out and demonstrate that our core values and the rights that we are seeking for ourselves, we are actually pledging to give those rights to each and every one of our fellow citizens.
It’s as simple as that. So please let’s grab this opportunity, let’s come together as a community, let’s walk hand-in-hand with our other religious communities and let’s take the case for religion, not just Islam but for religion and let’s take it to society at large and put it within the overall context of rights of citizens.”