Bradford’s Islamic leaders have called on the city’s Muslim communities to show the true, peaceful nature of their faith to dispel its negative perception after a national poll found a majority of people link the religion with terrorism.

They have spoken out as a national awareness campaign begins, aimed at improving the public’s understanding of Islam.

Entitled, ‘Inspired by Muhammad’, it is a response to the results of the poll commissioned by a charity called Exploring Islam Foundation in which more than half of people interviewed associated Islam with extremism and terrorism.

Fewer than one in seven believed Islam was a religion of peace, less than one in five believed it had a positive impact on British society and a third believed it was a violent religion.

Ishtiaq Ahmed, of the Bradford Council for Mosques, said: “There’s a widespread negative perception of Islamic values and way of life, and that’s why as a community we need to do a lot more to communicate to the wider society about our identity, what we believe in and how we go about living Islam in our day-to-day lives.

“Our faith institutions have a pivotal role in educating the wider society. They need to be a lot more open and a lot more welcoming. Let people come and meet Muslims and look what we do. We have nothing to hide.”

Dr Mohammed Iqbal, president of Bradford’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, said: “There’s a perception out there which is created by a minority of people doing disgraceful things.”

Mr Ahmed said: “In Bradford we have Islamic open days and a number of mosques have community events. This Friday, the Victor Street mosque is holding a job fair for the local community. Only through communication and dialogue, and working together can we dispel this misleading projection of Islam.

“The word ‘Islam’ means ‘peace’, and the majority of Muslims in the UK are very peaceful citizens who have a great deal of respect for the society they live in.”

Dr Iqbal said the targeted attacks on two mosques in Lahore last month, when about 80 people were shot dead, including one of his cousins, proved the terrorists were indiscriminate.

“They don’t draw a line between who they target, they have a political agenda and they are derailing one of the most tolerant religions,” he said.

For details of the campaign visit