Islam cultural event in London reaches out to build bridges
Regional-European Union, Culture, 7/6/2006
The biggest Islamic cultural event ever witnessed in Europe opened at Alexandra Palace in north London Thursday to provide a platform to reach out and "build bridges."
Islam Expo, which lasts four days, coincides with the first anniversary of last July's London bombing but the timing is a pure coincidence, according to the organizers, who said the festival was planned back in 2002.
Spokesman Anas Altikriti, the former president of the Muslim Association, said the event, which will observe Friday's two minutes silence in respect of the victims of 7/7 was not just targeted at Britain's 1.8m Muslims.
"The hope is that all kinds of people will visit and go away thinking about things, and not that Islam is a danger or a threat," Altikriti said.
Speakers from 22 countries around the world are attending the festival, representing Christian and Jewish faiths as well as an array of cultural, ethnic, professional and ideological trends.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone, former Iraq hostage Norman Kember and the BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner, who survived an attack in Saudi Arabia, are among those sharing the platform with many prominent Muslims.
The event includes a series of exhibits on Islam, lectures, debates, films and concerts.
A corresponding economic conference to promote London as a center for investment for the Islamic world is also being held in Carnary Wharf in east London.
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