Visit My Mosque day: British Muslims offer tours and tea to public
Dozens of mosques around the country are to open their doors to non-Muslims this weekend in an effort to counter negative perceptions of Islam and educate people about the religion.
More than 80 mosques are taking part in the second Visit My Mosque day, organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB). A similar event last year, involving 20 mosques, attracted hundreds of visitors for tours, talks and tea.
Many of the participating mosques are in cities with large Muslim populations, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Glasgow and Cardiff, while mosques in Belfast, Plymouth and Canterbury are also involved.
Participants include the two oldest mosques in the UK, the Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking, Surrey, and the Abdullah Quilliam Mosque in Liverpool, which date from the late 19th century. Some of the UK’s largest mosques, including the Islamic Cultural Centre in London, the East London Mosque and the Birmingham Central Mosque, will be offering introductions to Islam, opportunities to observe prayers, guided tours and explanations of community activities.
The open day was intended to “provide a platform for Muslims to reach out to fellow Britons and explain their faith and community beyond the hostile headlines”, the MCB said.
“Local mosques will also be inviting interfaith leaders, and all will be asked to come together to demonstrate unity and solidarity during what has been a tense time for faith communities.”
There has been a major rise in anti-Muslim hate incidents in the past year. According to figures from the Metropolitan police, Islamophobic crime increased by 70% in the 12 months to July 2015.
A study by the Islamic Human Rights Commission, published in November, found six out of 10 British Muslims said they had witnessed discrimination against followers of the Islamic faith, and that a climate of hate was being driven by politicians and media.
Tell MAMA, an organisation that monitors anti-Muslim attacks and abuse, defines such crime as “any malicious act aimed at Muslims, their material property or Islamic organisations and where there is evidence that the act has anti-Muslim motivation or content, or that the victim was targeted because of their Muslim identity”. It also includes “incidents where the victim was perceived to be a Muslim”.
The MCB said that the mosques taking part represented “the diversity in Islamic traditions, with mosques from a wide variety of Islamic schools of thought and traditions … including some of the country’s largest mosques seasoned in doing outreach activities, as well as smaller mosques holding open days for the first time”.
There are 2.7 million Muslims in the UK, making up about 4.5% of the population, according to the 2011 census.