CAIRO - Bringing a message of peace and love, Muslims in the south-eastern British town of Wokingham have shared flowers with their non-Muslim neighbors in an effort to counter anti-Muslim hostility in the country.
We wanted to provide an environment of harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims and were giving flowers to non-Muslims to show peace, friendship and love, organizer Mafaz Ali, of Munro Avenue in Woodley, told The Reading Post on Monday, June 17.We wanted to hold the fair especially after the Woolwich incident. We totally condemn what happened. It was the act of individuals and not the whole community.
People were coming to us saying we don't have that image of Islam in our mind'.
Organized by a group of Muslim women of Pakistani origin, the event aimed to highlight that Islam promotes peace and love.
Gathering at a summer fair at Winnersh Community Center, attendees shared food, played and laughed together.
The cheerful event also included a comedy magic show and exciting storytelling in which all families shared.
British Muslims have been in the eye of storm since the machete killing of an army soldier by two converts of immigrant origin in Woolwich, near London, last month.
According to Tell Mama project, which monitors anti-Muslim attacks in Britain, 212 anti-Muslim incidents have been reported after the Woolwich attack.
The figure included 11 attacks on mosques, in a series manifestation of anti-Muslim sentiments.
On Saturday, three Muslim worshippers were stabbed after the night prayers in Birmingham.
A fire also gutted the Darul Uloom Islamic school in Foxbury Avenue in south-east London last week, a blaze described by the police as suspicious.
It came after a suspected arson attack on an Islamic centre in north London.
Initials of the far-right English Defence League was found scrawled on the side of that building.
Holding the event regularly, this year's event was special as non-Muslim neighbors were invited.
Previously we have done events exclusively for Muslims, Ali said.
The response this time has been really good and we're planning another event for Eid-ul-Fitr [the end of Ramadan] in August.
We had 52 stalls and 38 of them were run by non-Muslims.
At the end of the event, organizers managed to raise more than a £1,000 towards a project promoting special sports classes for Muslim women at Loddon Valley Leisure Center.
There is a large Pakistani community in Berkshire and the group is empowering - especially to women, she said.
Some women are illiterate or have problems speaking English and meeting together gives them a better understanding of British life.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.7 million.
In recent weeks, several mosques in Britain have opened their doors to welcome neighbors or even angry, anti-Muslim protesters.
Two weeks ago, Bradford mosque has organized an event, themed United We Stand, to condemn violence in the name of Islam and bring together nearly 400 people of different religions and races.
In London, members of the North London Central Mosque have invited members of the EDL to a friendly discussion about their concerns, reiterating Islam's opposition to violence.The invitation was similar to another one extended last week by members of York mosque who invited angry EDL members for refreshments, tea and biscuits inside the mosque.