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Two Muslim leaders welcome Modi's UK visit
Shyam Bhatia in London |
August 17, 2003 18:57 IST
UK supporters of visiting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi are circulating welcoming statements from two local Muslims to counter protests planned by those unhappy with his handling of the Gujarat riots.
Chairman of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, Ibrahim Master, is quoted as saying in an email sent by Modi supporters: "We regard Mr Modi's visit as an opportunity to build on good relations and endeavour to bring prosperity
and harmony so that we can all be proud of Gujarat; the 'Power House of India'."
Another Muslim community leader, Zafar Sareshwala is cited as declaring: "We gladly extend a warm welcome to Mr Narendra Modi, the democratically elected representative of the people of Gujarat."
The two statements were rushed out on Sunday afternoon, a few hours after Modi arrived at London's Heathrow airport and shortly before he was due to address a rally at the Wembley Conference Centre in North London.
Indian Muslims from all over the UK are converging on Wembley to stage a mass demonstration against Modi and the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, Ibrahim Sacranie, has accused Modi of provoking communal tensions.
Modi's four-day visit includes meetings with the Gujarati community, visits to Hindu temples and interactions with English and Gujarati business leaders.
Indian High Commissioner Ronen Sen is hosting a dinner for Modi before the chief minister leaves for Switzerland next Thursday.