Curious visitors were invited into Bradford Central Mosque this weekend as a direct result of the controversial visit by Britain First members who arrived unannounced to distribute Bibles.
The mosque has made it clear that visitors who do not share the Muslim faith are very welcome to visit the Westgate building for a tour and to meet officials.
Officially, the mosque will be open from noon on Saturdays but those who want to satisfy their curiosity about the building and the faith will be welcome to arrange visits at any time.
Mosque representative Zulfi Karim said: “We have had a long think about how to deal with this. This is very much about Islam inviting people into its religion. It is a peaceful religion, it is about harmony.
“We are trying to say people are welcome to go and visit mosques, regardless of whether it is their faith.
“What we do say is, please respect it. We believe in freedom of speech, but what is sacred remains sacred.”
Bradford Central Mosque was built around 20 years ago and is the only one within the city centre. On Fridays up to 1,500 people visit to pray.
It is already used for cross-faith visits and Mr Karim is keen to see the different elements of Bradford’s society sharing each others’ cultures. That was commonplace when he was growing up in the city, he said, but had been lost more recently.
Mr Karim said he wanted to re-open those channels and dispel any myths which may have taken hold within communities which are unfamiliar with the Islamic religion.
The religious divide between different parts of Bradford communities was starkly illustrated when members of a group called Britain First made an unannounced visit to the mosque to hand out Bibles.