In May 1998, 70,000 people formed a human chain through Birmingham city centre, protesting against global debt. This weekend, ten years on, Islamic Relief (IR) took part in an event aimed to bring the issue back into the spotlight.
The Journey to Justice event, organised by the Jubilee Debt Campaign, was held at Birmingham’s International Conference Centre (ICC) on Sunday May 18 2008, and included a range of speakers, interviews, music, drama and film, celebrating what the campaign has achieved so far and demanding that the work is continued.
Representatives from all the major religions were present, with participants including Archbishop Ndungane (former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town), Christian Aid’s Daleep Mukarji, Oxfam’s Max Lawson and IR’s Muhammed Imran.
Imran discussed the fact that the Muslim community has been somewhat slow to catch on to the issue of global debt.
“To a large degree the Muslim community has been sleeping and we need to make sure that we are waking ourselves up and waking up the Muslim community. We are inspired by where other communities are and where they were ten years ago. We are beating the drum and we will not give up. At the twentieth anniversary I hope we will see more of the Muslim community here,” Imran said.
“When our agency is confronted with injustice we won’t give up trying to wake them up,” he added.
Recorded messages were broadcast from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (President of Liberia) and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Brown confirmed his support for the cause, saying, “We need campaigners like you to keep up the pressure. I urge you to continue in this call to action. You are a truly global force for change.”
Since the 1998 campaign $88 billion of the world debt has been cancelled. However $400 billion remains, meaning that developing countries all over the world are still struggling to repay rich countries instead of investing in health, education and other essential services.
Wider debt cancellation is urgently needed to help tackle global poverty.
“There is unfinished business,” said Stephen Rand, co-chair of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, in his closing speech in which he urged participants to form a human pie-chart outside the ICC, representing the level of global debt finished and that still remaining.
The Jubilee Debt Campaign is a coalition of national organisations and local and regional groups calling for 100 percent cancellation of unjust and un-payable poor country debts by fair and transparent means.
Member organisations include major development agencies (including IR), churches, other faith groups and trade unions.
For more information on the Jubilee Debt Campaign and to donate click here
For more information on Islam and Debt click here