City-wide mosque council gets green light

A CABINET minister has given the green light to a plan to establish Manchester Council of Mosques.

John Denham, secretary of state for communities, gave his approval to the idea to the setting up of the umbrella organisation, which will represent Manchester’s diverse Muslim communities, when he visited the city on Thursday 5 November 2009.

The council of mosques not only plans to represent followers of Islam but will also work in increasing understanding about the religion throughout the city.

Mr Denham was told about the scheme at Muslim Heritage Centre, based in Whalley Range, where he met with community leaders.

Former lord mayor Afzal Khan, who is also a councillor in Cheetham and a heritage centre trustee, explained to the state secretary how imams were creating the council based on the successful model which is already running in Lancashire.

“Everyone is excited about this project,” Cllr Khan told The Asian News (AN).

“Mosques are keen to work together as they realise there’s a need to be more transparent and by working together and sharing good practice this can be done.

“It will serve all the communities of Greater Manchester and we will continue to work with various faith organisations as well.

“A steering committee has already been set up and we hope to be fully operative in three months.”

Mr Denham said that he was impressed with the way the plans were being organised and by the way that Muslim Mancunians had handled the English Defence League (EDL) rally, which occurred on Saturday 10 October 2009.

“Communities have come along way since the northern disturbances in 2001 and are better able to deal with situations like the EDL protest,” The secretary told AN.

“The work around interfaith in Manchester is a clear example of how people from various faiths came together to not only denounce the protest but tried not to play into the hands of the EDL.

“The Muslim community were able to remain calm and work well with the local authorities. The EDL would have liked nothing more than to see groups of Muslim men turn up in their own counter demonstration. But this did not happen and that is thanks to the work by the mosques and the other organisations who were involved.”

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