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UK Mosques open doors to other faiths, but few have ever crossed the threshold

23 February 2018

Clive Lawrence

The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, visits Masjid e Anwaar Mosque, on Sunday, as part of the Visit My Mosque initiative. He is pictured with (left to right) the Principal of ISSAP, Hafiz Mushtaq; the Priest-in-Charge of St Silas’s, Blackburn, the Revd Sheelagh Aston; and Imam Fazal Hassan, Muslim Chaplain for Royal Blackburn Hospital

The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, visits Masjid e Anwaar Mosque, on Sunday, as part of the Visit My Mosque initiative. He is pictured w...

MOSQUES across the UK opened their doors for Visit My Mosque day last weekend. A new survey suggested, however, that 90 per cent of British people had not visited a mosque in the past five years.

The study, commissioned by the Muslim Council of Britain and carried out by YouGov, also found that 68 per cent of the population had not seen the inside of another faith’s place of worship in the past five years.

The 2011 Census showed that five per cent of the population was Muslim.

Last Sunday, more than 200 mosques opened their doors to the public to allow an insight into Islam. It was the largest number open at the same time in the country. It is the fourth year that the scheme has been run, and the theme was “Open Doors, Open Mosques, Open Communities”.

In the survey, which was carried out before this year’s event, 50 per cent of those who had not been to a mosque said that they would not be interested in visiting a mosque in the future and only 26 per cent said that they would be.

The Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Britain, Harun Khan, urged people of all faiths, and those of no faith, to visit a mosque “to get to know their neighbours of a different faith”.

Speaking before this year’s event, the Bishop of Bradford, Dr Toby Howarth, said: “Crossing the threshold of a different place of worship can be an important step in learning about and getting to know our neighbours.

“As a bishop, and as a trustee of the Christian Muslim Forum, I very much welcome the Visit My Mosque Day initiative.”

He said that he had planned to visit a mosque himself, and encouraged people across the country to do the same.

A mosque open-day volunteer in north London, Fatima, said that she still remembered the first time that she went to a church, and that “it is so important in today’s society that we all have the chance to meet each other in real life, and realise how much we have in common.”

The Bishop of Burnley, the Rt Revd Philip North, visited Masjid e Anwaar Mosque in Burnley. Bishop North said: “We need to be much bolder about being open about who we are.”

He said that he spoke regularly with the Muslim Chaplain of Royal Blackburn Hospital, Imam Fazal Hassan, about their respective faiths.

Bishop North said: “Everybody benefits from this kind of honest dialogue; so let’s be confident people of faith and have a shared vision for the sort of town and the sort of communities we want to be.”

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, denounced Islamaphobia while on a visit to Finsbury Park Mosque in his constituency, on Sunday. He said: “I’ve held meetings with Muslim women who have told me horrific stories of routine racist abuse on our streets. If women are abused because they are wearing a headscarf, then it is a wrong against them and it is a wrong against all of us.”

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