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On March 9, the eve of the start of Ramadan, more than 1,200 people from 28 countries around the world met at the Baitul Futuh Mosque for the 2024 National Peace Symposium.

The Baital Futah Mosque in Morden, London, is the largest mosque in Western Europe and is the administrative headquarters of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the third most popular branch of Islam.

The Peace Symposium, now in its 18th year, is organised by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. Attended by dignitaries, including Ambassadors of State, MPs, and academics, as well as representatives from charities and faith communities, this annual event is aimed at promoting a deeper understanding of Islam and other faiths, and bringing communities together for the cause of peace.

As wars continued to devastate communities in Gaza, Ukraine, Yemen and Sudan, as peace-making efforts fall deeper into crisis, this year’s Peace Symposium called for immediate ceasefires and to build sustainable global peace.

The panel of speakers comprised of cross-political party representatives. Dame Sioban McDonagh, Labour MP for Mitchem and Morden, spoke of the oppression and suffering in Gaza. Addressing the Symposium, the MP said: “The Ahmadiyya community has been at the forefront of calling for peace since the very start of the conflict. It is his holiness who urged all world powers to de-escalate and work towards a lasting peaceful solution.”

Jonathan Lord, Conservative MP for Woking, and vice chair of All Party Parliamentary Group for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, shared his gratitude for the Community’s efforts for establishing peace worldwide.

“Your commitment [the Community] to promoting peace, justice and tolerance across the world, is truly commendable…In the face of such uncertainties in the international situation, Your Holiness, and your Community have been true beacons of peace, reminding us of the values that should unite us all,” Lord told delegates.

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, urged for a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza so that the “killing can stop, so the aid can get in, so the hostages can be released, so we can start a peace process that gets to the Two-State solution that could be offered.

“And I’m looking forward to His Holiness’ speech to talk about what’s happening and how we can play our role – all of us,” said Davey.

Each year, an Ahmadiyya Muslim Prize is awarded to individuals recognised for their role in the Advancement of Peace. This year, the community presented two awards, the prize for 2020, which was not able to be given due to Covid-19, and 2023. Irish activist, anti-nuclear war advocate and peace campaigner, Adi Roche received the 2020 award for her post-Chernobyl disaster efforts. David Spurdle, founder of the ‘Stand By Me’ charity, received the 2023 award for his dedication to orphans and underprivileged children across the world.

Following the awards, the worldwide Head and Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, delivered a keynote speech. The Caliph spoke of the importance of ending global conflicts and called for ceasefires in both Gaza and Ukraine.

“Political leaders and those who have access to policymakers must take a long-term view of what is in the best interests of mankind, rather than being blinded by selfish desires to assert their superiority over others.

“I firmly believe there is only one way to end these wars – by ensuring that justice prevails and that whatever settlements are made are based on equity, as opposed to what better serves the interests of external powers.”

His Holiness dismissed the misconception of the conflict in the Middle East being a ‘religious war,’ saying instead it was a “geopolitical and territorial conflict” with religion providing a solution.

“We must all come together, setting aside national, political, and other vested interests for the greater good of humanity and to ensure that we leave behind a prosperous world for our future generations. It is the need of the time that we must focus all our energies and efforts on establishing true peace so that we may live in a world of hope and prosperity, rather than a world defined by inequality, hatred and bloodshed,” Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad concluded.

Adeel Shah, one of Britain’s youngest Imams and councillor on the East Hampshire District Council, told Left Foot Forward how His Holiness has long put the message for peace and justice in front of world leaders. The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for example, has thanked the Caliph for his efforts to promote peace worldwide and said that his government appreciated the efforts of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Canada.

“His Holiness has never shied away from speaking about global unrest and world leaders are taking note of the points raised about finding solutions for peace and justice,” said Adeel Shah, who also serves on in the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community UK’s press and media office.

Charlene Maines, a Conservative Councillor on the East Hampshire District Council, attended the Peace Symposium for the first time. She spoke of the importance of the event.

“People are afraid of religion. It’s all about education. Once we are informed about a religion, we can come to our own conclusions about it. That’s why this event is so important. You can literally feel the connection in the venue.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor for Left Foot Forward

Image: Baitul Futuh Mosque, Morden, London

The post Hundreds attend world peace event at London Mosque, calling for immediate ceasefires and ‘sustainable peace’ appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.

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