UK Mosque open days to ‘explain faith’

Mosque open days to ‘explain faith’

men in prayer at  the East London Mosque in Whitechapel.
men in prayer at the East London Mosque in Whitechapel.

More than 90 mosques across the UK are opening their doors to visitors to allow Muslims to “explain their faith beyond the hostile headlines”.

The Muslim Council of Britain hopes Sunday’s open day will show unity in “a tense time for faith communities”.

Three times as many mosques were participating this year as last year, it said.

It comes after a rise in the number of anti-Muslim attacks in London, with hundreds reported last year.

The Visit My Mosque Day also comes after supporters of the Pegida anti-Islam movement staged a silent march in Birmingham on Saturday.

The BBC’s religious affairs correspondent Caroline Wyatt said fewer than 200 people turned up, but the protest was a sign of the fears over Islam that the open day is aimed at addressing.

There are about three million Muslims – about 5% of the population – and anestimated 1,750 mosques in the UK.

The mosques involved in the open day include those in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.

Sajjad Amin, from Manchester’s Khizra Mosque, said it was inviting men, women and children to visit to observe prayers and see what else happens in a mosque.

“We’re promoting understanding and breaking down barriers by allowing other people to see what mosques do on a daily basis,” he told BBC’s Breakfast.

“It’s not a reaction to that [Islamophobia] – mosques have been doing this over the years. If we can increase the number of mosques participating, we can help to break down barriers,” he added.

Organisers said the list represented the diversity in Islamic traditions, with mosques from a wide variety of Islamic schools of thought and traditions taking part.

And they said mosques would be inviting leaders of other faiths, “and all will be asked to come together to demonstrate unity and solidarity during what has been a tense time for faith communities”.