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Makkah imam leads prayers in London

June 12, 2004

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LONDON, June 11: The imam of Makkah's Grand Mosque led prayers for inter-faith peace and harmony in London on Friday, part of the inauguration of Western Europe's largest Islamic cultural centre.

Around 10,000 worshippers gathered at the East London Mosque, and surrounding streets in the city's White chapel district to hear Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Abdul Aziz al Sudais, one of Islam's most venerated imams, organizers said.

Also on hand for the launch of the 10 million pound (18 million dollar) London Muslim Centre were guests including Britain's grand rabbi Jonathan Sachs and racial equality minister Fiona Mactaggart.

Prince Charles, in Washington for the funeral of former US president Ronald Reagan, also took part by way of a pre-recorded message. "Islam emphasizes to Muslims how to organize their relationship and responsibility towards society so that they may live under the blessing of Allah and a peace that extends to all," said Sheikh Sudais in his sermon.

"I want to urge Muslims to be united in adhering to this message and follow the example of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessing of Allah upon him," he said. He also said that Muslims should set an example of "the true image of Islam" in their interactions with other communities, "and dispel any misconceptions portrayed in some parts of the media". -AFP