Cardiff: An interfaith march was organized in Wales in order to present the image of Islam in a positive manner as the Muslims in the locality of Butetown feel that the image of Islam needs a boost and prevailing misconceptions about Islam should be removed.
The participants, who were between 40 to 50 in numbers, enjoyed the sunshine and took part in the walk with great zeal and enthusiasm.
The interfaith march was a revival of a traditional walk which was initiated in Cardiff by Sheikh Said Hassan Ismail (Late). He was a well-known and respected Muslim and served the Muslim community in Butetown for more than 60 years.
Zane Abdo, the Imam of Alice Street Mosque, gathered the Muslims of the town for the walk and paid tribute to Late Sheikh Said Hassan Ismail.
Zane Abdo highlighted the motive of the interfaith march and stated, “Right now, Cardiff has been in the media because of Muslims for the wrong reasons.”
“I want to put Muslims in Cardiff in the limelight for the right reasons,” he added.
He defended the Muslim community in Butetown saying, “The arrests to do with the extremism in South Wales – that is not representative of Muslims in the community.”
He continued, “This march was a reflection of the true nature of the community and what this community is about.”
Abdo expected that the media will now analyze the Muslims in a right way. He said, “I hope that the media will do it justice and give credit to what we did today.”
According to the reports, a 40-year-old man belonging to Cardiff was arrested with seven others in the beginning of this month. He was suspected of funding overseas terrorism with money linked to the smuggling of stimulant khat.
In February, two brothers from Cardiff, Abdul Miah, 25, of Ninian Park Road, Riverside, and Gurukanth Desai, 30, of Albert Street, Riverside, were sentenced to imprisonment for almost 30 years in the charges of plotting to blow up the London Stock Exchange.
Omar Latif, another Cardiff man of 28 years, of Neville Street, Riverside, was sentenced to jail for 10 years and four months, with an extended period on license of another five years.
The three Cardiff men were part of a nine-strong cell which included four men from Stoke-on-Trent and two from London.
Abu Hajar, a City Islamic teacher and reported to be a spokesman for terror group Islamic Path in 2009, was highly criticized last month as he encouraged the Muslims in Wales to “physically” support the fight for Shariah laws abroad.
Zane Abdo asserted, “What we did today was a big step in rejecting extremism.”
“When people are happy and walking around and smiling and coming together, that reduces extremism and pushes it to the fringes, where it should be,” he justified his stance.
He informed happily, “All ages took part. Some were very young – my little daughter is a year and a half – while some of the elders were in their 70s.”
He confirmed the success of interfaith mission, “And it was people of different faiths. There were Muslims and Christians and people who did not believe in anything.”
“Granted, there were not great numbers, the majority were of Islamic faith,” he added.
Zane Abdo showed his optimism that this initiative of interfaith harmony will not stop and more walks will be organized under the banner.
“This is something that Cardiff really needs,” he said while adding, “We are going to continue this, it is just the first.”
He assured, “When we have festivals we are going to march in the street and encourage people, whether Muslims or not, to participate like they used to.”
Abdo said that the experience to see interfaith harmony was so emotional for him and he could not resist weeping.
“It brought tears to my eyes and to some of the elders,” he concluded.