London, United Kingdom – In an attempt to promote peace and dispel stereotypes surrounding Islam, a group of British Muslims visited 10 Downing Street on Saturday to deliver roses to Prime Minister Theresa May as part of an international campaign.
Engagement2030 is a campaign created by As-Siraat, an Islamic organisation in the UK promoting peace and unity.
Muslims from all over the world held events during the initiative that started on December 5, giving out roses and chocolates in their local communities and spreading the meaning of peace in Islam.
On Saturday, the campaign culminated with the visit to 10 Downing Street where the delegation presented roses and a card for the prime minister.
British Muslims also handed out roses as a gesture of peace to the public. Participants from more than 125 locations around the world were also involved.
“Unfortunately in the current climate of fear, the true message of Islam has been lost,” said Abdur Rehman Tobin, a coordinator for As-Siraat.
“We give out roses and cards offering messages of peace. It gives an opportunity for people to talk to Muslims and ask questions and find out more to remove any misconceptions.”
Councillor of the London Borough of Newham Obaid Khan, who was at Downing Street, said it was a “fantastic initiative” that drew and an overwhelmingly positive response.
“A rose is a symbol of peace and love. Let’s hope in this festive period that we can spread peace through giving,” said Khan.
With the rise of Islamophobia since the September 11, 2001 strikes and amid ISIL attacks, there have been numerous anti-Muslim hate crimes, growing prejudice, and open discriminatory rhetoric. The campaign hopes to open up dialogue and engage people in creating better interfaith understanding, organisers told Al Jazeera.
The United States, New Zealand, and Australia are a few of the countries where the Engagement2030 campaign took place with organisers feeding the homeless, visiting the sick, and doing other charitable acts.
David Bowers is an American tourist who visited Downing Street with his family on Saturday.
“There are not too many Muslims where I live so there are many people in the states, including myself, who have seen the news reports and quite frankly did not have a good impression. The overall perception of Muslims in the West has generally been one that is negative,” he said.
“But I can see really nice, warm and friendly Muslims here. Perhaps the perceptions we have had may change.”