Leeds ambassadors’ mission for peace

Leeds Peace Ambassadors visiting a memorial to the 7/7 victims
Leeds Peace Ambassadors visiting a memorial to the 7/7 victims
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A diverse group of young people travelled from Leeds to London today in one of a series of events being held to mark the 10th anniversary of the 7/7 bombings.

Representatives of the Muslim, Christian, Sikh, and Jewish faiths – as well as those of no religion – made a journey symbolising unity and peace, at odds with the same journey undertaken by three of the four suicide bombers who left 52 innocent people dead in the attacks of July 7, 2005.

The 15 ‘peace ambassadors’, aged 16 to 25, were due to visit the Hyde Park memorial and meet other young people in the capital to discuss the issues surrounding 7/7 and what lessons have been learned.

Community organiser Tom Chigbo, who oversaw the trip, said: “The journey from Leeds to London mirrors that of the bombers, but this is about the group initiating a new way of social action borne out of mutual co-operation.”

The group will give a presentation to an audience expected to number several hundred as a new organisation is launched at Elland Road stadium tomorrow night.

Leeds Citizens – comprising members of faith groups, educational institutions, charities and community groups – is being set up to campaign for social justice. The founders chose the 7/7 anniversary as a symbolic date to constitute an official body.

Mr Chigbo said: “It’s fair to say that there was a real passion to bring about systematic change in Leeds anyway. However, for some communities 7/7 has been a catalyst to get involved.

“It’s one of the things that inspires and reminds them of the importance of what we are doing.”

Meanwhile, hundreds of people are expected to gather in Cross Flatts Park in Beeston for a concert on Tuesday night.

The area became the focus of international media attention in the wake of the 7/7 attacks because three of the four bombers – Mohammad Sidique Khan, Shehzad Tanweer and Hasib Hussain – had connections to the neighbourhood.

The Berakah Players, a charity made up of musicians from Jewish, Christian and Muslim backgrounds, will perform in the Watsonia Pavilion from 6pm as part of a 10th anniversary tour.

Their music fuses jazz, classical and Middle Eastern elements and the tour, supported by the Arts Council of England, aims to promote the idea of living in peace.

Faith Together in Leeds 11 – an association of different religious groups – and The Hamara Centre are hosting the event.

Speakers will include Archdeacon of Leeds Paul Hooper, the Rev Jacqueline Owen, of Beeston Hill United Free Church and Qari Asim, imam at the Makkah Mosque in Hyde Park.

Helen Bishop, centre manager at Faith Together in Leeds 11, said: “This is a great opportunity for all the community to come together to enjoy music which promotes mutual respect, unity and peace.”

Hanif Malik, chief executive of the Hamara Centre, said: “We are delighted to be involved with the Berakah Project and are confident that the event will help contribute to the great community spirit we have here in Beeston. The diversity of the musicians reflects the multiculturalism and broad range of communities that live in our area and music and the arts are always a great vehicle for further enhancing harmony within our society.”

Seating and water will be provided at the event and everyone is welcome.

Elsewhere in the city, residents will be invited to join in a minute’s silence and civic and faith leaders will hold a low-key reception for about 30 invited guests, with a series of speeches from a number of prominent figures.

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