HUNDREDS of Muslims took part in a mass walk through Bolton to celebrate the birthday of the prophet Mohammed.

The sun shone as more than 1,000 men and boys walked around the streets of Great Lever yesterday, carrying religious banners and singing prayers to commemorate the anniversary, which is one of the most important days in the Muslim calendar.

Coaches brought worshippers from far and wide to take part in the celebration.

The crowd included people of all ages from communities in Bolton and from as far away as Glasgow and London.

The walk, now in its 18th year in Bolton, started at Makka Mosque Culture and Community Centre, in Grecian Street, Great Lever.

The event began with prayers at the mosque and the walk was followed by speeches and a huge community dinner.

MP Yasmin Qureshi and the deputy leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Linda Thomas, attended, along with other councillors, including Cllr Mohammed Iqbal, Cllr Mohammed Ayub and Cllr Akhtar Zaman. Special guests included Mohammed Riaz, the leader of the Naqshbandia Group in the UK, and Sufi Mohammed Asgar, the leader of the Bolton Naqshbandia Group.

Ms Qureshi said it was an important event for the local community, while Cllr Thomas said she was there to represent the council and show support and community cohesion. “I am here to join in the celebrations and I want the community to know that the council is supportive of them,” she said.

Organisers said they were delighted by the turnout and that the Bolton event was one of the largest in the country. Mian Aqeel Akhtar, the president of Bolton Muslim Action Committee, said: “This is the day when our prophet was born, so we come here to celebrate his birth and our faiths. It is an important day for us and for the community.” Kamran Khan, aged 32, from Great Lever, took his four-year-old son Eesa along to experience the walk and said they were there to “give gratitude to God and celebrate the birth of the prophet”.