Livingstone kicks off celebration of Islamic culture

Mayor Ken Livingstone was joined by 2012 Olympic Games chief Sebastian Coe and singer Yusuf Islam – formerly known as Cat Stevens – at the launch of a four-day Islamic cultural festival at Alexander Palace in north London yesterday.

People attending the event today, which is expected to attract 40,000 visitors, will observe the midday two-minute silence in memory of the victims of last year’s outrage. And, immediately afterwards, former Iraq hostage and peace activist Norman Kember will share a platform with anti-war campaigner Anas Altikriti, who visited Iraq in an attempt to secure his release.

Festival spokesman Ihtisham Hibatullah said that the event would “see mainstream Muslims condemn the terrorist atrocities in London and elsewhere against innocents. The focus on Friday will be to share in the sorrow of the families of the victims and the survivors. There will be a strong message from the mainstream Muslim community against all violence by extremists.”

Planning for the festival began in 2002, according to organisers, who stressed that it only coincides with the July 7 anniversary by chance.

Morning Star, 7 July 2006