GPU Events Build Bridges and Create
Harmony for a Better World
The Global Peace and Unity (GPU) Event is designed to provide an educational and entertainments based on exchange. It’s underpinned by the combined effort of all those who contribute, to promote global community cohesion.
The fourth annual Global Peace and Unity Event 2008 organised by Islam Channel, supported by major Islamic organisations including the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and British Muslim Forum (BMF), was held during this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, 25th and 26th of October, at Excel.
Established as the largest gathering of its kind in Europe, this entertaining, educational and family-oriented flagship GPU event is running for the fourth year. The GPU Event attracted more than 60,000 attendees last year. “I believe that this year’s GPU Event will go further than ever before in opening up this greatly needed platform for thought and effective dialogue,” said Mohamed Ali, chairman of the Global Peace and Unity Events.
This is a multi-faith, multi-race and multi-ethnic event which was addressed by a most impressive array of speakers from around the world – prominent Islamic scholars to national and international political figures, alongside internationally renowned legal specialists.
The purpose of this event and the theme of the speakers were to promote dialogue and dispelling the myths surrounding Islam. The chairman of the GPU Events said, “Earlier, this year, the Archbishop of Canterbury highlighted the presence of a religiously plural society and spoke out, saying that Shariah Law is often misunderstood. The ensuing backlash to his statement served only to exemplify his claims that Shariah is the focus of much fear and distrust today.”
“What is needed for our convictions to flourish is bound up with what is needed for the convictions of other groups to flourish. We learn that we can best defend ourselves by defending others. In a plural society, Christians secure their religious liberty by advocacy for the liberty of people of other faiths, to have the same right to be heard in the continuing conversation about the direction and ethos of society,” said the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams in his “A Common Word For the Common Good.”
This year’s event worked with a number of major interfaith groups to deliver workshops and talks promoting dialogue and to build bridges across faiths. Among the speakers, there were Rev. Jesse Jackson, Civil Rights Activist; Rt. Rev. Riah Abu El-Assel, former Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem, Rabbi Yisrod Dovid Weiss, Associate Director, Netuci Karta International and Ramesh Kallidai, Hindu Forum of Britain. There was a plethora of political leaders from different political parties who spoke for dialogue, integration and exchange of ideas.
An even wider array of Awards was given out this year in recognition of outstanding people who have contributed in some way to society. This year’s Awards are in the areas of: Education, Friends of Islam Media, Friends of Islam Politics and Lifetime Achievement.
The Friends of Islam Media Award was designed specifically to recognise non-Muslim individuals who work within mainstream media and who have achieved or have contributed to achieving the highest levels of informative; accurate; fair and objective reporting or who have championed these values – particularly with reference to Islamic issues and news stories affecting Muslims and Muslim communities or countries. This year Friends of Islam Media Award was given to Madeleine Bunting, a Guardian columnist and Associate Editor.
The GPU Friends of Islam Politics Award recognises a person or a group of people who have demonstrated excellence in a certain field. It recognises the contributions of MPs, MEPs, regional and local politicians and activists over the past 12 months. It is part of the GPU Event’s policy of recognising people’s efforts in society. The winners of this year’s Friends of Islam Politics Dominic Grieves, Conservative MP who has been a front force in building community relations; the winner of Friends of Islam Minister of the Year Award Stephen Timms, Labour MP from East Ham who has concentrated on two areas: Regeneration in East London including Regeneration partnerships, health service funding and in the area of Muslim and Christian relations and the Friend of Islam Parliamentarian of the Year Award Simon Hughes Liberal Democrat MP who continues to work effortlessly in ensuring community relations as the front forth of the parties policies.
The GPU Educational Awards highlight the excellent role Muslim Schools play in the education system. The GPU Muslim Schools Awards, as part of GPU Education Awards, is a national competition celebrating the success of Muslim schools. The Award focuses on finding the most outstanding Muslim schools in the UK. The ultimate aim of the awards is to recognise and celebrate their achievements across the country. The winners are Al-Noor Primary School, London, Al-Hijra Secondary School, Birmingham and Manchester school.
This year, the GPU event also recognised the positive contribution that mainstream state funded educational institutions have made to the lives of 95% of Muslim pupils in the UK. The Excellence in Education Award recognises institutions that have made an outstanding contribution to the lives of Muslim students, with particular emphasis on meeting the needs of Muslim pupils, developing partnerships with the Muslim community and raising the achievements of Muslim students. The winners are: Kingsley Community School, Plashet Secondary School in East Ham, Tower Hamlets College and the University Award was given to University of Gloucester.
Dr. Suaad Eltaif Alfitouri