Make Tea, Not War: British Muslims Urged To Open Mosques To Public

31st May 2013

  • Muslim Council of Britain urges Muslim communities to seek unity with fellow Britons
  • Urges mosques and communities to be vigilant and avoid confrontation and report attacks
  • Muslim Council of Britain will be encouraging community conversation on extremism

The Muslim Council of Britain today urges Imams and mosques to exercise the unique leadership skills at their disposal to call for calm and positive action at Friday prayers later today.

British Muslims up and down the country have stood up and condemned the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. Whatever the reasons, speaking out against the killing of a fellow human being was the right thing to do.

Since that attack last Wednesday, there have been dozens of reports of mosques and Islamic centres being attacked and vandalized. Individuals have reported abuse, which is also reflected on social media.

This weekend, there is a real risk of tensions rising with the far right extremists threatening to testify to their message of hatred and division.

Reach out to neighbours

We take heed at the many good practice stories coming in from local Muslim communities up and down the country.

The most famous of these come from the York Mosque, an MCB affiliate which has reached national prominence as it diffused a tense situation with dignity and wisdom (hikmah). When far-right protestors took to the streets outside the mosque, the York mosque leadership and members went out to the protestors and invited them in for tea and a game of football.

This is an example which we are sure others are emulating and we hope more mosques will take their cue.  As much as we have had hate and ill-will directed towards us, we have also had many of our fellow Britons reach out to us to affirm that Lee Rigby’s murder was not done in our name. This is the time now to unite as Britons.

Be vigilant and report

It is paramount, first and foremost, to report any attacks to the police. We urge those affected to call 999 and report the incident immediately. Likewise, we urge police authorities to record these incidents with due care and subsequent investigation.

The police is the first port-of-call. But those affected may also wish to report to the many third-party reporting bodies who can relay the incident on their behalf. We list the organisations who do this below.

Please also take the necessary steps to protect your institutions. Our guidelines can be found here.

Let’s talk about extremism

Even though British Muslims have once again affirmed that Lee Rigby’s murder was not done in their name, condemning it in the strongest possible terms, we still need to determine why such acts occur.

The Prime Minister has established a taskforce to examine the issue, and is suggesting that this may be about Islamic practice, and the control of mosques and Imams. Others speak of foreign policy, the alienation of young people and the lack of engagement they have to society.

We do not possess all the answers, but we recognise that these arguments have been argued over one too many times – within the community and in wider society.

What we call on now is for a proper intra-community conversation to explore this issue. That conversation may well result in a greater appeal to government to recognize and deal with the issue of foreign policy – as many are indicating to us already. But we also hope it will lead to practical, community-led initiative that will allow us to deal with this problem and then move on to the other issues that affects our lives and Britain today.