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Muslims show their hurt and frustration at prayer rally

HONG KONG (SE): Around 3,000 people from the Muslim community in Hong Kong gathered in Chater Garden on September 23 to express their hurt and frustration over the mocking of the prophet, Muhammad, by the movie produced in the United States of America (US), The Innocence of Muslims.

Organised by the community from the Kowloon Mosque, the peaceful gathering, which organisers estimate reached 5,000 people at its peak, prayed for respect among various religions and for the peaceful coexistence of people from various faith and cultural backgrounds worldwide.

The organisers of the prayer service called on the people present to express their pain and hurt peacefully, saying that we are people of Hong Kong, and express ourselves peacefully in the custom of the city.

Qamar Minhas, the president of the International Islamic Society in Hong Kong, said at a media briefing at the Kowloon Mosque on September 22, that Muslims have been living peacefully in the city for decades and would not jeopardise that reputation.

Letters were sent to the civic authorities expressing the discontent and pain of the Muslim community and making clear its requests for appropriate action.

The organisers also thanked the media for being present at the prayer rally, the government for its courage and respect in allowing them to have the opportunity to express their pain in public and the police for being present to ensure the afternoon proceedings remained peaceful.

People holding placards inscribed with a heart and the words, “Muhammad, peace be upon him,” prayed and listened to readings from the Qur’an, before a statement was read out in Urdu, English and Cantonese.

The statement called on people to have the moral fibre to raise anger against the blasphemy being perpetrated against the prophet, Muhammad, and to show the hurt that it causes to people of the Islamic faith.

It was critical of the extremists who incite unrest through their blasphemous statements and caricatures, adding that even people of no religion at all should know that all Muslims love the prophet Muhammad more than they love themselves, family or children.

“Muslims can tolerate blasphemy against themselves,” the statement said, “but they cannot tolerate blasphemy against the holy prophet, Muhammad.”

The statement said that the Muslim community of Hong Kong expressed its deep regret and sorrow for the lives that have been lost in other countries in the wrath against the blasphemous movie, calling on people to stop the violence in the interest of humanity.

“We deplore the loss of innocent lives and are extremely saddened by killing in Libya and elsewhere,” the statement says, referring to violence in the streets of Benghazi, which saw the death of the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three of his staff.

It called on people to express their pain and sorrow peacefully, while praying for mutual respect among all religions and peoples.

It said, “Islam calls us to be patient, tolerant and educate those who are ignorant.”

However, it added, “But now it is impossible to remain silent.”

The gathering called for justice to be brought to the people responsible for making the offensive movie, although it regretted that that in itself will not bring justice to those who have suffered pain as a result of the blasphemy and insults hurled at the prophet, Muhammad.

The gathering demanded that the movie not be shown on television, in cinemas or a trailer made available on YouTube.

The gathering called on western countries to alter their constitutions so as to make it possible for them to prevent such public displays of blasphemy in the future.

It also called on the 59 Muslim countries around the world to unite in bringing justice to the Islamic community for this sacrilege and asked the United Nations to raise its voice and work to enforce its charter on respect for icons of all religions.

People held placards proclaiming Islam as a religion of peace and calling for peace and blessings upon the great prophet, Muhammad, as well as on the prophets Jesus and Moses.

Some called for an end to anti-Muslim bigotry while others proclaimed the great respect that Islam holds for all religions.

Although there were some scuffles around the barriers cordoning off the main entrance to the US Consulate General later in the afternoon, there were no injuries or arrests and the chairperson of the Pakistan Islamic Welfare Union was escorted by police to the main door to deliver a letter to a diplomatic representative.

The good-natured gathering warmly welcomed non-Muslims into its midst in peace and, in the tradition of Islam, with great hospitality.

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