More than 80 mosques around the United Kingdom have announced they will open their doors to the public on Feb. 7 in a bid help fight increasing Islamophobia.
The Muslim Council of Britain stated the event is an opportunity for British Muslims to reach out to their neighbors and better understand each other. A spokesperson for the council told al-Jazeera:
“It’s an opportunity for Muslims in the UK to put themselves out there and reach out to their local neighbors. The day will allow for people to meet face-to-face, get to know each other and tackle misconceptions."
Non-Muslims and even people of no faith are invited to visit one of the 80 mosques participating in the initiative. Those present will be able to eat snacks, drink tea, ask questions and go on guided tours.
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A similar event was organized in 2015, but only 20 or so mosques participated according to PressTV. France also held an open-door event last month in order to encourage assimilation.
"We hope that the achievement will be that people of different faiths, and those with none, will better understand us, and we will be more integrated with everybody," said Abdul Majid, chairman of the Camberley Mosque which is participating in the event.
Metropolitan Police reports show there has been a sharp rise in anti-Muslim crime in Britain since December, with 158 offenses recorded on individuals who were either known to be or perceived to be Muslims, according to al-Jazeera.
Fatima Manjra, a volunteer at a mosque in Leicester, England said she has been in situations where people have cursed or sworn at her, simply for being Muslim.
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"I was just driving home from work one day, and some people cursed, calling me a f*****g 'raghead'. I was on my own, I had to stay calm."
She added that the outreach initiative is "incredibly important" right now, given the negative portrayal of Muslims in the media.
"If you open a building up and show its social value, people will see that we are normal people just trying to get by. I hope people will see that there is nothing that we are hiding," she told al-Jazeera.