Human chain made in Alton as 30,000 Muslims promote peace and tolerance

A human chain of 30,000 people was made in Hampshire as a symbol of tolerance and commitment to worship, and to combat Islamic extremism, on Sunday.

Tens of thousands British Muslims from 100 different countries gathered at the three-day event of Jalsa Salana, pledging allegiance to the leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community (AMC) and fifth Caliph, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad.

Featuring speeches by politicians, dignitaries and spiritual leaders, the event is headlined by a pledge of allegiance led by Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad where 30,000 people form a human chain leading to the Khalifa as they repeat the words of the pledge in unison.

While men and women are in segregated during the event, the groups connect with husband placing an arm on his wife’s shoulder between the two marquees.

Zaheer Ahmed, a deputy head of Jalsa Salan, said he hoped the event would promote peace. Saying: “The purpose of this event is to have love, to have peace, and we are a community who look after each other and we want everyone to be happy.

“Our motto is love for all, hatred for none, everybody is talking about peace, love, human values, that’s what it’s all about.

“The event has progressed. It was a small set up at the beginning, now it’s a big, big event, it’s around 40,000 people, the venue is bigger, the arrangements are on a big stage.

“It’s beautiful food, beautiful atmosphere, we are all working ,there are doctors, lawyers, IT consultants, all sorts of people, if I’m given a job, I don’t say why are you giving me a job mopping the floor.

“We love to help each other and the community.”

Mr Ahmed added he hoped coverage of the event would combat Islamophobia. He said: “If you go through the previous events, we have so many people talking about the benefits of this.

“A very beautiful message is coming out, the spirt of the community members. This will help on a wider scale, if media picks up our message to the public.

“We are about love and peace.”

The three day free event sees people come from all over the world to a 200 acre field in Alton, and is broadcast to 80 million people worldwide.

Guests are fed and looked after by a team of 5000 volunteers, with the kitchens producing 270,000 meals across three days, and 10,000 rotis an hour.

Volunteers at the festival are responsible for food, security, transport and parking, accommodation, first aid, translation and exhibitions.

In a speech given earlier in the festival the Caliph had called on government to help support refugees, he said: “The truth is that no single country, and in fact no continent, has the capability to absorb the millions of people who are fleeing their war-torn countries.

“Thus the only solution is to formulate a genuine framework for peace in their countries of origin and to try and bring an end to the cruelty in their homelands.”

He is also urging the international community to fulfill their moral obligation to those displaced by war, while recognising the dangers posed by ‘extremists and terrorists posing as refugees’.

The AMC was established in 1889 and is led by the single largest caliphate in the world, with over 100 million adherents.

International Jalsa Salana was held from Friday 12 August – Sunday 14 August at Hadeeqatul Mahdi (Oakland Farm), Green Street, East Worldham, Alton, Hampshire, GU34 3AU.

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