BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Wednesday, 11 December, 2002, 23:31 GMT
'End Muslim stereotype' - Charles
Prince of Wales: Guest of honour

The Prince of Wales has called for an end to the portrayal of British Muslims through a "distorting prism of cliche and stereotype", something which was undermining relations between different faiths and communities.

Speaking at a national awards ceremony celebrating the contribution of Muslims to British life, the prince said "every sane person" condemned terrorism.


Every sane person condemns terrorism, whoever its perpetrators and whatever the justification

Prince of Wales
Addressing an audience of 500 in central London, he said all faiths could profit from learning more from Islamic texts which preached the beauty and gentleness of belief in God.

Prince Charles, who has a long-held interest in Islam, was among the first to speak out in defence of British Muslims in the wake of 11 September with a high-profile visit to an east London mosques two weeks after the terrorist attacks.

"Along with others I have over the years done my best to encourage great understanding between faiths and helped build better relation between the different communities that make up British society," he said.

"Such efforts, which the vast majority of British people support, can sadly be undermined by the fact that all too often we learn about communities different from our own through the distorting prism of cliche and stereotype.

"The synonymy of Islam and terrorism is only the latest of these."

'Loyal'

"Every sane person condemns terrorism, whoever its perpetrators and whatever the justification," he said.

The Prince of Wales said British Muslims were not only an asset to the nation, they were loyal members of society with vital and firm roots in all walks of the community from teachers to scientists.

He praised a long tradition of volunteering by British Muslims, born out of a deep sense of faith.


If the modern image of our community is warped, we must do more than hope for just a positive image to emerge

Ahmed Versi, Musim News
This willingness to help the community he said, was something his own charity, the Prince's Trust, wanted to draw upon more in the future.

Earlier in the evening, the 500 guests had watched a short allegorical play which had lessons for all communities, said the prince.

"The wonderful play we have just enjoyed, based on the wisdom of Jalaluddin Rumi, should remind us that it was the Sufis - the living spirit of the Islamic tradition - to preach God's mercy, his gentleness and beauty.

"The Sufi texts deliver the message of 'Ihsan' or 'doing what is beautiful', the antithesis of the message of hate and intolerance spouted by terrorists.

"I suggest that we could all, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and even Atheists, return to those texts with profit and humility."

'Challenging times'

Ahmed Versi, editor of the Muslim News and organiser of the awards, said British Muslims had been living in difficult times because of a rise in prejudice against them since 11 September.

"It's been challenging for Muslim women who dare not venture out for fear of reprisals," he said.

"Mosques and Islamic centres are attacked because they represent the visible face of Islam and Muslims in Britain."

Mr Versi said the answer was not to hide away but to demonstrate to the rest of the country the fundamental role they played in shaping modern Britain.

"If the modern image of our community is warped, we must do more than hope for just a positive image to emerge," said Mr Versi.

Awards across community

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence, now in their third year, honour Muslims and non-Muslims across the spectrum of public life.

Winners included veteran councillor and community activist Bashir Mann, photographer Peter Sanders for his portrayals of the Islamic world and boxer Prince Naseem Hamid for sporting achievement.

The children's award went to Umaymah and Saadiyah Patel of east London for dedication to their disabled older sister.

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes