On Sunday 7th of February, over 500 mosques nationally participated in the project “Visit my mosque” – an annual national campaign. The aims of the project were to offer a platform for Muslims to reach out to their fellow Britons and explain their faith. The London Central Mosque participated in the project by launching a VIP and media event in order to facilitate dialogue and conversations and deeper cultural and religious understanding between the Muslim community and the greater society.
Joseph Interfaith Foundation has been cooperating closely with the mosque’s interfaith projects for the last decade. Mehri Niknam was invited as a VIP guest to be a member of the panel of speakers for the event. She talked about the causes of people’s fear and misunderstanding about Islam and Muslims. She said:
“Humans fear what they don’t know and therefore, will invent myths filled with terrifying narratives and characters in order to justify their fears. They will take a few real incidents, multiply them many times, dress them in their frightening fantasies and present them as realities. Regrettably, this is what has been happening in parts of the society, particularly in the last few years, in respect of Islam and Muslims. The bestialities of Da’esh – the so called and self-styled Islamic State- have come to represent Islam in the mind of many members of the public. The heinous crimes of the terrorists in France and Belgium and elsewhere have given weight and reality to the phobias of people about what Islam and Muslims are about. Therefore, it seems to me that it is extremely important for the Muslim community to address these fears. While I fully acknowledge the duties of the government in this respect, it seems to me that the onus is on the Muslim community. It is they who most and foremost must address this by allowing and encouraging and educating the general public to interact with them and learn about them.”
Mehri Niknam’s comments were reported by the Arab foreign press and the BBC website.
Cooperation between the mosque and the foundation is ongoing.