On Tuesday 15th Dec, Edinburgh's Central Mosque hosted a group of local councillors who visited the purpose built mosque in a show of solidarity with the Muslim community after recent negative stories of increase in hate crime towards Muslims.
The mosque offers a guided tour of the premises conducted by volunteers from Muslim Women's Association of Edinburgh (MWAE) with a chance for visitors to ask questions promoting a better understanding of Islam and Muslim practices.
Tasneem Ali, who helps with the tours, commented, “Women visitors do not have to cover their heads. All we ask is that people be respectful when visiting our place of worship. It is always a positive experience for ourselves and our visitors to put on a tour of the mosque.”
“We had been worried after a couple of schools cancelled their mosque visit but Shelia Paton, Senior Education Manager helped to clear up the misunderstanding and the second school has re booked their visit with us.”
The statement issued by Shelia Paton encourages schools to visit Edinburgh Central mosque saying “that through 'Time for Reflection' our young people learn about other faiths and about Islam in particular; the visits to the mosque underpin this and are highly valued.”
The group of 10 councillors headed by Cllr Lesley Hinds joined the mosque tour on Tuesday 15th December where they will see how the mosque spaces are used and watch prayers taking place.
Green Spokesperson Cllr Melanie Main said
‘It’s not enough now simply to denounce outrageous comments made by Donald Trump and others. These very hurtful and intimidating remarks and the events playing out have a very personal affect on those they target. It saddens me to hear that some in our Muslim, and the wider Asian communities of Edinburgh are feeling under siege; some of those afraid to leave their homes, or some have been the target of hate crime.
In Edinburgh we’re not very good at being demonstrative, but I ask everyone, please let’s show our support and solidarity to our neighbours in what we say and do, in the street, the playground, out shopping – a friendly greeting and handshake or a simple smile can made the difference.”
Imam Yahya Barry welcomed this visit, “The recent climate of anti Islam sentiment can create a vacuum which would be harmful to our diverse community. At Edinburgh Central Mosque we look to fill this vacuum with an alternative narrative, shaping the discourse and above all welcoming visitors who wish to learn about Islam. We are happy that our city councillors also support our initiative.”
Chair of the organisation, Samena Dean said, “MWAE have been concerned at the increase in reports of racial and Islamophobic abuse directed at our women in Edinburgh since the Paris attacks. Mothers are even considering asking their young daughters to not wear a headscarf so that they do not become targets of abuse.
We are working to help our women and community feel safe by reaching out for support from the Edinburgh wide community, Police Scotland Community officers, other faith groups as well as our councillors who we are thrilled to welcome to our Central Mosque. We really appreciate Cllr Melanie Main's initiative.”