By Denise Marray/Gulf Times correspondent/London
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attended as guest of honour on Thursday an Iftar sponsored by Qatar Charity UK (QCUK) at Muslim Welfare House in North London.
QCUK is sponsoring 28 organisations across the UK during Ramadan. Corbyn managed to attend despite having to deal just a few hours earlier with the shocking news of the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox. He was warmly welcomed and made a moving tribute to Cox.
“She had only been an MP for a year and her first speech in parliament was about the humanitarian crisis experienced by the Palestinian people in Gaza. She went on to make a huge contribution about trying to bring peace to Syria. Her husband Brendan, in the hours after her death, sent out a remarkable message. He said: ‘The only way to defeat this hatred, this wrong, this evil is by love, support and solidarity. Hatred will never achieve anything.”’
Corbyn has a long association with Muslim Welfare House. He has served as a councillor and subsequently an MP in the area for over 40 years. Speaking to Gulf Times, he paid tribute to the outreach work done by QCUK.
“I like the model of Muslim Welfare House because while it is of course a place of prayer and worship – it also has a good youth and women’s group and good sense of outreach, providing support and food for homeless people. It has open days which reach out to the wider community. I want our children growing up in this area to think of Islam, Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism as faiths that they should understand,” he said.
Belgacem Kahlalech, project manager, QCUK, said Muslim Welfare House played a highly valuable role in the community.
“Muslim Welfare House welcomes people from different backgrounds and has good relations with their local authority, their MP and with the Christian-Muslim Forum. When QCUK is deciding on funding, it is this spirit that we are looking for – this organisation reflects the vision that we want to support,” he said.
Salman Mujtaba, development manager, QCUK, said in his address at the Iftar: “In these difficult times we must remember that there will always be challenges which is why we must work together to bring light to those who have been plunged into darkness.”
Toufik Kacimi, CEO, Muslim Welfare House said: “We are open and welcoming to everybody – this is what our religion teaches us. Islam teaches us to be harmonious and gracious, to open the heart to the community.”
He expressed his thanks for the support of QCUK: “Without the funds from Qatar Charity UK we wouldn’t be able to do this kind of event.”
Richard Watts, leader, Islington Council, said: “Muslim Welfare House does a fantastic job in providing services to the most vulnerable in Islington. It is fantastic if charities like QCUK can come to areas like Islington; we have very high levels of child poverty and deprivation in this area.”
Acting Inspector Edward Joseph, Neighbourhood Policing Team Inspector for North Islington, attended with several of his colleagues from the police force.
Asima Shaikh, Councillor, Finsbury Park Ward and Executive Member for Economic Development for the London Borough of Islington, said: “In Finsbury Park we have levels of poverty here and poor education and employment outcomes. It is very important that organisations like Muslim Welfare House are prepared to do community work and development,”
Kat Fletcher, Mayor of Islington, said: “Here in Islington we are a community of the haves and the have-nots. There is far too much poverty in our community. It is organisations like Muslim Welfare House and other charitable and religious organisations that often pick up the pieces when people fall through the cracks.”
Councillor Rahkhia Ismail, Labour Member for Holloway Ward, Islington and the first Somali woman to become a councillor in the UK said: “Without community cohesion we are nothing. We are all human beings from different backgrounds and different schools of thought and when we come together we are something.”
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