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Friday, 28 September, 2001, 17:57 GMT 18:57 UK
Prince Charles visits victims' friends
Prince Charles at the Suleymaniye Mosque in east London
Charles attended prayers at the Suleymaniye Mosque
Prince Charles has been meeting friends and colleagues of financial workers who died in the US terror attacks.

The prince visited the London offices of Cantor Fitzgerald - the firm worst affected by the strike on New York's World Trade Center.

The company lost more than 700 employees in the atrocities.


The prince's openness to other faiths is excellent, we need more open-minded people like him

Kemal Kaymakci
Suleymaniye Mosque
Many of those who died were on the telephone to their colleagues in London at the time of the attacks.

The chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald, Lee Amatis, told the prince his staff had been "heroes - everyone of them" as he showed him round the offices.

"The magnitude of it is still sinking in and the grieving for the loved ones we lost will probably never end I feel, but as a company we have to carry on," he said.

Mr Amatis added that the prince's visit had been a major boost to morale.

"The support of all the British people has been fantastic during this very difficult time and to have the Prince of Wales take the time to come and visit our staff was a wonderful gesture."

Among the many staff members Prince Charles met was trader Paul Norris, 32, from Sevenoaks, Kent.

'Tolerance'

The father-of-two told the prince: "We all saw it happening. There was at first disbelief and then utter shock at what was happening."

Since the atrocities, Mr Norris said he had been working round the clock and spending many of his weekday nights in hotels.

"It has been tough and I haven't seen as much of my wife and children as I would like but I am sure this is what everybody in the New York office would want us to do," he said.

Later the prince visited a mosque in east London to show support for British Muslims.

Prince Charles at the Suleymaniye Mosque in east London
Crowds of people greeted Charles
He attended the end of prayers at the Suleymaniye Mosque, a Turkish Islamic cultural centre.

He also met students and staff in an Islamic education classroom, as well as leading representatives from the British Muslim community.

Speaking at the mosque, Prince Charles said: "I very much wanted to come here ... to show how much I minded about and care about the Islamic community in this country, particularly at a time when it's so difficult for everybody.

"And also to show, above all, my support for all those people of whatever faith who utterly reject violence.

"And, at the same time, to show my support for those who believe more than anything else in the overwhelming importance of tolerance, compassion and understanding - and I hope we can get that message across."

Kemal Kaymakci, a board member at the Islamic centre, applauded the prince's visit.

"In our religion there is no place for terrorism," said Mr Kaymakci.

Backlash

"The meaning of Islam is harmony and peace. The prince's openness to other faiths is excellent. We need more open-minded people like him.

"Our message is clear - we want to live in peace."

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said it was hoped that the visit would reinforce the government's message that it is at war with terrorists, not the Muslim community around the world.

It comes as British Muslims are facing a backlash following the US attacks.

Several mosques around the country have been attacked and Muslims have reported being abused in the streets.

But on Thursday Prime Minister Tony Blair met Muslim leaders and pledged the government's support for the UK's Muslim community.

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The BBC's Jennie Bond
"This was a finely balanced exercise"

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See also:

14 Sep 01 | Business
Cantor grieves for lost staff
28 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Net freedom fears 'hurt terror fight'
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