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Faiths to march in show of unity
7:00am Monday 18th June 2012 in News
FAITH and friendship will be celebrated in Oxford tomorrow as people from all religions join a peace walk through the city centre.
The annual friendship walk, which sees hundreds of worshippers from more than nine different faiths taking to the streets, starts from the synagogue in Richmond Road, Jericho, at 6.15pm.
Walkers will say prayers before setting off for St Giles’ Church.
From there they move to Radcliffe Square, where Hindu, Buddhist and Sikh prayers will be said for the first time in the walk’s eight-year history.
The walk will finish with more prayers and a meal at the Central Mosque in Manzil Way, off Cowley Road.
Rickshaws are being provided to help people with mobility difficulties take part and the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire Tim Stevenson and the Lord Mayor of Oxford Alan Armitage are set to attend.
Faith leaders taking part include the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, Imam Munir Chisti, Imam Ata Ullah Khan, Rabbi Norman Solomon, Chinta Kallie and Davinder Singh.
Penny Faust, vice-chairman of the Oxford Council of Faiths, said: “When we get to the mosque the Muslim community will provide the first course and the Jewish community will provide the desserts.
“There is no charge for the event, but we will collect donations.
“Half of the collection will go to Save the Children and the other half goes to fund the future of the friendship walk.
“I’d invite all people to come along.
“If they want to start at the synagogue we would be delighted to see them, but if they want to join anywhere on the route that’s fine too.
“The atmosphere is great – people chat to people of all different faiths.
“It’s very good for cross-community relationships, especially if there’s something happening internationally that might affect relationships – it is good to know people from other faiths.”
Dr Hojjat Ramzy, of Oxford Central Mosque, is among those taking part in the walk.
He said: “This is one of the best things that happens in the city.
“Everyone is involved and it is all about peace and friendship – it doesn’t matter what their religions are – they walk as friends.
“I’m praying as the Imam for the rain not to come.”
The Rev Charlotte Bannister-Parker, who founded the walk in 2004, said: “It’s an amazing testimony to how different faiths in Oxford can work together.”