LONDON, Sept 4: A campaign, called Ramazan Festival, has been launched here and in a couple of other European countries to what the organisers say create harmony amongst different cultures and religions by inviting people of all faiths to take part in celebrations of the holy month of Ramazan.
The campaign urges Muslims to use the 30-day holy period to reach out to other communities who are either not aware of the rich Islamic culture or have negative perceptions about the Muslims and Islam.
It is asking the over 1,600 UK mosques and cultural and religious organisations to make it a point to invite people from other faiths and backgrounds to observe from close quarters the cultural strength of Islam.
Director of the festival Syed Mohsin Abbas said: “Ramazan is the perfect vehicle to initiate positive dialogue between Muslims and the mainstream. And the Iftar is the perfect time to celebrate the positive contribution, richness and diversity of British Muslims.”
Ramazan Festival is the first transnational cultural event of its kind and also it is taking place for the first time in Britain. Mr Abbas said that Muslims would ‘feed a friend’ during the campaign to help the British homeless.
Many restaurants owned by Muslims have been lobbied to run a discounted Iftar menu. Hundreds of arts and cultural events, including Iftar parties and Eid fairs and celebrations, are being planned across Europe.
The director hopes the festival will be successful in achieving its desired objectives in the long run. “Our intention is to arrange 40 days of arts and cultural events in 2008 which will reflect the diversity of British Muslim cultural expression that exists in the UK. We are here to stay and we will take the uniqueness of this festival to Muslim communities all over the world.”
The Ramazan Festival has been running successfully in the Netherlands for about three years and was this year launched in Norway with France and the US in the pipeline. Mr Abbas said he felt the urgent need to introduce the festival to the UK audience in view of the need to raise the standard of dialogue on extremism and community cohesion to a more sophisticated level in order to promote greater mutual understanding and provide a chance for Muslims to shout out a clear message against the violent extremists from all backgrounds.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary David Miliband greeted the Muslims around the world on the occasion noting that Ramazan was a month of ‘contemplation, prayer and spirituality, a chance for Muslims to look at their own lives and judge them against the high standards that they set for themselves.”
Mr Miliband also hosted an Iftar-dinner on Wednesday evening for a select gathering of Muslim leaders in the UK which was also attended by leading Muslim media persons.