British mosques open doors to faith leaders 'to ease tension over terrorism'

Marwan Sultan in London , Sunday 1 Feb 2015

Around 20 mosques will take part in the 'Visit My Mosque' open day, aiming to explain Islam and fight radicalisation among young Muslims in UK

The central mosque is seen in Birmingham, central England
The central mosque is seen in Birmingham, central England (Photo: Reuters)

A number of UK mosques will open their doors Sunday to the public as part of a national initiative to ease tensions over extremism and terrorism.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is organising the day under the banner "Visit My Mosque," to "reach out to fellow Britons following tensions around terrorism."

The MCB suggested the outreach idea after Islamist militants killed 17 people in France last month and a UK government request asking Islamic leaders and mosques to help deal with Islamic extremism and radicalisation in the UK.

The MCB has complained of anti-Muslim sentiment and attacks since the deadly attacks in France.

"Mosques will be sharing tea and refreshments alongside an insight into the day-to-day goings on of a busy Muslim centre of worship,” the MBC said in a statement.

Last month, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles sent a letter to mosques and Muslim leaders the UK asking for help in dealing with radicalisation.

The letter said there is a need "to lay out more clearly than ever before what being a British Muslim means today: proud of your faith and proud of your country."

It is believed that the MCB initiative aims also to underline that Muslims are an integral part of British society.

Participating mosques have invited leaders of other faiths “to demonstrate unity and solidarity during what has been a tense time for faith communities.”

“Members of the community are there to get to know one another better and some may be on hand to answer questions about Muslims and Islam where this is possible,” the statement said.

According to the MCB, nearly 21 mosques take part. This is a tiny fraction of the total number of mosques and Muslim prayers spaces in the UK, estimated at 1,750.  

The MCB is a national representative Muslim umbrella body with over 500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and supplementary schools.

The British security services have said about 600 Muslims are fighting with the Islamic State militant group in Syria and Iraq.

UK politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron, have repeatedly praised the vast majority of British Muslims for their condemnation of terrorism.

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