Thousands of British Muslims gathered Sunday evening for a charity peace concert dubbed Muslim Live 8 to raise money for victims of Sudan s long-running Darfur conflict.
The concert, starring top Islamic singer Sami Yusuf, was backed by the British government which is spearheading efforts to press the Sudanese government to stop violence in the western province.
The event at London s Wembley Arena, called A Concert for Peace in Darfur, also aimed to promote efforts to unite the community amid widespread suspicion of Islam in Britain.
An injustice anywhere is an attack on justice everywhere and so we will continue working together with all of you to bring this suffering to an end, said Prime Minister Gordon Brown in a pre-recorded video message.
I want to thank all of you … from the artists and musicians who are performing here today, to religious leaders from all communities who have been leading prayers and campaigns for the people of Darfur.
Brown added: The fact that so many of you are here tonight shows how deeply people from communities all over Britain care about the people of Darfur and their plight.
Topping the bill at the concert is Yusuf, a 27-year-old British star popular among young Muslims worldwide, even if he is less well known in his homeland.
This is really something monumental, it has never been done before, he said on the eve of the concert.
More needs to be done on Darfur because this is an issue between Muslims, Muslims killing Muslims, some people think it s shameful that people haven t really stood up, he told AFP.
This is a great opportunity for British Muslims to really do something.
Later, addressing the crowd, he said: Today you can be Muslim and you can be British.
Jehangir Malik, from British charity Islamic Relief, said when launching the event in August that he wanted to see our own equivalent of Live 8 – the series of worldwide concerts organised ahead of the G8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2005 calling for increased aid to poor countries.
All profits from the event will go to Islamic Relief to help fund its work in Darfur.
Like Yusuf, the other artists taking part combine music with faith.
Outlandish, a Danish hip-hop outfit featuring Muslims and Christians, appeared, as did Kareem Salama, a Muslim American country singer, who poses in a Stetson hat on the cover of his latest album.
Canadian stars The Sound Of Reason and Hamza Robertson, a young English convert to Islam, were also on the bill.
The event had official support – the Foreign Office helped to organise a trip for Sami Yusuf and other celebrities to visit refugee camps in Darfur earlier this year.
The United Nations says that some 200,000 people have been killed and more than two million displaced as a result of the conflict in Darfur, which has been going on for over four years.
There are around 1.5 million Muslims in Britain but according to an opinion poll in 2006, 53 percent of Britons believe that Islam threatens Western democracy. Agence-France Presse