Bradford’s acting bishop has spoken out against the “disgraceful behaviour” of a far-right group at mosques in the district.
Britain First members entered the places of worship on March 10, handing out Bibles and urging worshippers to renounce Islam, as well as visiting the Keighley home of the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Khadim Hussain.
Bishop Tom Butler, Acting Bishop of Bradford, has now condemned the group’s actions.
He made the comments at a special civic service at Bradford Cathedral, attended by Coun Hussain.
In his address on Saturday, Bishop Butler said: “Mr Lord Mayor, I say that none of you expect thanks, but neither do you expect the appalling treatment which you experienced last week when a delegation arrived at your home demanding to meet with you.
“I can well understand that your daughters felt intimidated, and I hope that there is no repeat of such disgraceful behaviour in a city which has worked so hard to develop good relationships between the communities and the faiths.”
He added: “The situation is made worse in my eyes when other protestors at mosques in the city carried Bibles and seemed to be claiming Christian authority for their behaviour.
“Mr Mayor, our holy books, be they the Bible or the Koran are not to be waved in people’s faces like a weapon.
“They are to be treated with reverence and respect and that has always been the tradition in this great city of Bradford.”
Coun Hussain said the bishop’s comments had been “well received” at the service.
He said: “He was very strong. He made it quite clear that it is nothing to do with Christianity.
“These people are obviously using Christianity for their own agenda, just like at the other end of the spectrum, where some people use Islam for their own purposes.”
The vice-chairman of the Bradford Council for Mosques, Zulfi Karim, welcomed the bishop’s comments, saying local mosques had also received support from Sikh, Hindu and Jewish communities.
Mr Karim is secretary of Bradford Central Mosque in Westgate, the first of those invaded by the far-right group.
He said the mosque had now decided to throw open its doors to the public at noon each Saturday, to mark the time and day the invasion had happened.
He said: “We are very open and we welcome any conversation or debate.”
The first open day will be held this Saturday.