Visit My Mosque Day – a fantastic initiative that we can all engage with

It is easy to see our country as divided, especially when we watch the news about Brexit or, most recently, the public reaction to Shamima Begum’s situation. There is no denying that hate crime has risen and that extremists on either side of the political spectrum are increasingly exhibiting intolerance and prejudice.    

Sunday’s “Visit My Mosque Day” initiative was, therefore, a very welcome and timely reminder that, for the most part, people from different faiths and communities rub along nicely and are very happy  to celebrate the tremendous diversity and multiculturalism that make our capital and county so great. 

Joined by other GLA candidates and London members, we embraced the initiative with a tour of three Mosques in the capital.  We started with the Suleymaniye Cultural Centre – a beautiful Ottoman style mosque with a Turkish focus.  From there we went to the East London Mosque, which is one of the largest mosques in Europe with a largely Bangladeshi congregation.  Our final visit of the day was to the regal Central Mosque in Regents Park, a mosque that was officially opened by King George VI in 1944 and which serves a very diverse and international community of worshipers.

All the mosques were very different but in each one we were shown warm hospitality and met people who were keen to share information not just about the Muslim faith but also about the tremendous community and outreach work that is done in the mosques every day.  This year the 250 mosques taking part in the initiative were also supporting the national “Keep Britain Tidy” campaign.    As a central theme of our own London 2020 campaign is one of kindness and compassion – both to our neighbors and our surrounding neighbourhoods – this was another example of how the day was an opportunity to recognise shared values and celebrate those areas and aspirations that we have in common.  

Both the Labour and Conservative Parties have had a challenging few weeks. Labour has lost MPs and members because of antisemitism.  At the same time, Baroness Warsi has again asserted that the Conservatives have a ‘Muslim problem’ following a recent report that 49% of Conservative voters think Islam is a threat to a British way of life.    

The Liberal Democrats oppose all forms of discrimination and will fight all types of hate crime.  Our London campaign needs to speak to voters of all faiths, of no faith, and from all of London’s varied communities. We are certainly looking forward to visiting many more mosques, synagogues, temples, churches and other places of worship over the coming months.  Nothing beats talking with people face-to-face about their concerns, their hopes and their aspirations.    We hope that as many members as possible are able to do the same.  


* Siobhan Benita is the Lib Dem candidate for Mayor of London and Hina Bokhari was elected as a Councillor in Merton in 2018

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  • Helen Dudden 5th Mar '19 - 7:33pm

    In Belgium a carnival float has two huge puppets, depicting Jews. Highly anti semetic and a total embarrassment to the Jewish Community.
    Hardly, showing a caring face.
    I know how I have complained for years about the attitude of some towards my Jewish Friends.
    Incidentally, there are open days for Synagogues too, often very beautiful.
    As someone who came to the faith many years ago, I fear for the future at this present time.

  • Great initiative. Helping bring communities together. Would like to know if other faiths do something similar. For instance many people I know have never visited a synagogue. Learning about other faiths does help in breaking down barriers and build understanding.

  • Helen Dudden 6th Mar '19 - 12:35pm

    You should go to a Synagogue on an open day. They are usually, about the same time.
    Who ever designed the very large puppets on the carnival float in Brussels, were very much of out tune with reality.

  • Thank you for your advice. I will check out my local synagogues for open days

  • I recently was invited to a Sikh Temple, a very positive and informative experience. We should all take any opportunity to visit various places of worship, also gives us an opportunity to explain our liberal values, a two way street 🙂

  • Helen Dudden 6th Mar '19 - 5:06pm

    It is a good way to see how beautiful the building is. You only convert willingly. That’s a different subject. As I’m no longer a libdem, but a free writing anywhere person, that has grown tired of politics.

  • I remember my visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

  • richard underhill 12th Mar '19 - 9:45am

    We visited a mosque in the south of Cyprus. In Istanbul we visited the Blue Mosque, not, of course, during times when it was being used for prayers. Its architectural importance is of worldwide fame.
    The current tv programme in which contestants race to Singapore without mobile ‘phones, not using air travel and with limited money showed two contestants at the Blue Mosque, but at 9 pm it was closed, so they plan to visit it again on their return journey.
    In Istanbul there is also a former Christian church, which became a mosque, and is now a museum, still standing despite the vulnerability of Istanbul to earthquakes.

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