British veteran makes U-turn on opposing the building of new mosque
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday April 24 2018
The BBC reports on the story of a British Army veteran, Mr Ian Durrant, who now campaigns for the building of mosques after strongly fighting against a mosque’s planning permission.
Mr Durrant was originally a staunch opponent of the building of Lincoln’s first purpose-built mosque, which is to open soon, and had set up a group to campaign against the mosque’s planning application.
Mr Durrant clarified that his concerns were based on the potential traffic that could have arisen due to the new structure. He said: “There was no parking, there would have been nearly 90 cars, and the building only provided 12 parking spaces”.
He added that he became uncomfortable with the campaign against the mosque as things became more malicious. Far-right groups, such as the English Defence League (EDL), started joining in the campaign and organised marches in protest to the mosque’s planning permission.
Mr Durrant, strictly against the EDL, said: “We had a letter campaign in the press against the EDL, asking people, “If you see them, turn your back on them and walk away””.
The original planning application was eventually unsuccessful and another site was suggested which appeased members of the public who had concerns about the traffic. However, hostile rumours about the mosque continued.
The Chairman of the Lincoln Islamic Association, Mr Tanweer Ahmed, said that people were being led to believe that the mosque would have “loudspeakers doing the call to prayer five times a day” as well as other things.
Mr Ahmed eventually invited locals, including Mr Durrant, for talks on Islam and the function of the proposed mosque.
Mr Durrant said: “I knew nothing about Islam, and someone sent me an email saying, “we’re running a series of talks – would you like to come?” So I did. I sat in the front on my own and it was fascinating”.
He added how his friends were also coming round to his way of thinking. He said: “My guys…don’t mention Muslims anymore to me. I’d like to think they’re accepting my way of thinking. I don’t like prejudice…I served in Kuwait with Muslims. I served in Borneo with Muslims. It makes me feel very proud that I have been accepted”.
It is encouraging to see Mr Durrant’s change of heart on the building of the mosque in Lincoln and his story is a testament to the importance of the Muslim community engaging with the local community to dispel rumours and to educate those who are curious about Islam and the function of mosques.
A YouGov Poll carried out between January and February 2018 found that “almost 90% [of Britons] hadn’t been inside a mosque, in recent years”.
Therefore, initiatives such as that by Mr Ahmed and the annual ‘Visit My Mosque’ event, organised by the Muslim Council of Britain, are incredibly important in dispelling hostile myths and rumours about mosques and their function.
MEND, in an effort to tackle myths on Islam and Muslims, has produced an exhibition which features the positive contribution of British Muslims and showcases the true scale of Islamophobia in our society. The exhibition can be downloaded for free here or, alternatively, physical versions of the exhibition can be hired for free here.