Bishop urges congregations to go to mosque

A Church of England bishop is urging Christians to visit their local mosque this weekend, saying it is an 'important step' in getting to know neighbours.

Toby Howarth, the bishop of Bradford, backed the annual Visit My Mosque day this Saturday, saying he planned to go to several mosques in Bradford along with other clergy and churchgoers.

Muslims pray on the pavement after the terror attack targeting worshippers during RamadanReuters

'Crossing the threshold of a different place of worship can be an important step in learning about and getting to know our neighbours,' he said. 'I plan to visit mosques in Bradford on 18th February with local clergy and congregation members, and I warmly encourage others to do the same where they are.'

The annual event is run by the Muslim Council of Britain and more than 200 mosques will be open for visitors for the day.

It came as a poll revealed that most Brits know very little about their local Islamic community. Almost 90 per cent had never been inside a mosque and nearly 70 per cent had never been to the place of worship of another faith generally, according to a YouGov poll of 1,629 adults online.

'Despite the multi-religious and multi-cultural society we live in, these poll results show that the majority of Britons have not seen what the place of worship of another faith looks like,' said Harun Khan, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Now in its third year, Visit My Mosque is expected to be the largest ever open day for mosques after thousands were thought to attend last year's event.

It comes after Darren Osbourne, the Finsbury Park terrorist, was jailed for life for his attack on London last June.

Osbourne will spend at least 43 years for the murder of Makram Ali and the attempted murders of other after he drove a van through a crowd of worshippers leaving Finsbury Park mosque during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

'You acted to kill, maim, injure and terrify as many people as you could,' Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb said sentencing him. 'This was a terrorist attack. You intended to kill.'

This is the first open mosque day since that attack and the MCB said that despite the threats, mosques wanted to remain open for visitors.