The event in Wembley arena was led by Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a respected Pakistan-born Islamic scholar, who gained recognition outside the Muslim world after he published a detailed fatwa — or religious ruling — against terrorism and suicide bombings last year.
“I want to address those who are lost, who have a total misconception of jihad — I want to send them a message — come back to normal life. Whatever you’re doing is totally against Islam,” he told the audience, which included families with young children and students.
Some Islamic scholars, including Tahir-ul-Qadri, have warned that a power vacuum in North Africa and the Middle East could lead to militant and extremist groups gaining ground in upcoming elections caused by the so-called Arab Spring.
“People are looking for a cause, and the path of violence is the easiest one to take,” said Memoona Naushahi, a 20-year-old university student from Bradford in northern England. The message of the conference “may reach only people who want to hear it,” she added.
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