A LARGE turnout is predicted when Muslims gather in Huddersfield to campaign against a controversial anti-Islam film that has sparked violent protests around the world.
Kirklees Imams and Mosques Advisory Board (KIMAB) has organised a ‘Peace Rally’ in St George’s Square at noon on Saturday.
Muslims from across the region are being encouraged to join the rally in reaction to the crudely produced film, Innocence of Muslims.
The film was allegedly posted on Youtube last July by Egyptian man, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, who is living in the USA.
Violence flared in the Middle East and Asia after the film went viral on September 11, the anniversary of 9/11.
Nakoula has been arrested by police in California and is currently detained awaiting trial, but the trailer can still be found on YouTube.
American President, Barack Obama has asked Google, YouTube’s parent company, to take down the video, but the firm has refused, saying the trailer does not violate its content standards.
Abdul Wahid, general secretary of KIMAB, said they were predicting a large turnout for the rally.
And he said the event should be seen as a peaceful rally, not a demonstration or a protest.
He said: “Essentially the message is that no group of people should be abused or made fun of and we should have respect for all feelings.
“We have to tolerate the beliefs of all faiths as well as those of no faith.
“It isn’t just the Muslims, the rally is being supported by all faiths and there will be Christians, Jews and people of no faith at this peace rally.
“The issue is the amount of hurt it has caused Muslims – that needs to be seen by the public.
“We could have ignored it and we did discuss this at various levels, but we hold our prophet Muhammad very dearly in our hearts as Muslims.
“To make fun of the prophet or any other prophet is very very insulting.”
Kiran Bali, chairwoman of the United Religions Initiative, formerly the Huddersfield Interfaith Council, said the group was backing the rally.
She said: “As a society, we must stand in solidarity to constructively and peacefully challenge any form of discrimination and injustice.
“We must continue to condemn any offensive material and any criminal violence perpetrated in the name of religion.
“We must redouble our efforts to weave a fabric of community based on the highest ideals of our diverse traditions with a profound commitment to mutual respect.
“This serves to build relationships of understanding that can predispose communities to non-violent response when they are deeply offended.”
A number of protests have already occurred in the UK, including a large one in Bradford last week where more than 700 people were reported to have gathered at Centenary Square to call for the film to be banned and freedom of expression laws to be tightened.
Green and gold flags carrying the prophet’s name waved above the crowd outside City Hall while other protesters stood with banners declaring ‘Don’t Insult Our Prophet’.
The Bradford protest passed without incident from any anti-Islam group and yesterday the Huddersfield branch of the EDL had no mention of a planned counter-protest on its Facebook page.
However, the EDL does reveal it will be screening the film later this month in London.