‘We’re not all terrorists’: Welsh mosques open their gates to the public

Last year saw a rise of 26% in Islamophobic attacks compared to 2017, as a result, Visit My Mosque day was held all across the U.K. to bridge communities.

Islam and Cardiff have had relations since the 12th Century.

According to the monitoring group Tell Mama, 2018 saw a total of 1,201 verified reports of Islamophobic attacks, the highest number since it starting recording incidents.

In response to this, 3 March saw 250+ mosques across the UK hold open days to welcome in their neighbours from all faiths and none to build bridges across communities, in support with the Muslim Council of Britain. 

A total of  five Cardiff mosques played their part in this, one of them being the South Wales Islamic Centre in Butetown. Daoud Salaman, the chairman of SWIC said, “Visiting a mosque can be leap of faith at times but you shouldn’t believe everything on the internet, we are not the way people show us, come see with your own eyes, then judge us”

Dad Salaman, the chairman of SWIC has Yemenese-Welsh heritage.

When asked about the initiative of ‘open days’ in mosques, Daoud said, “We are trying to inform people about what we truly stand for, which is peace and harmony.We’re not all terrorists.”

Built in the 1970’s, the Mosque is more of a community centre, where people gather to socialise, read and pray. The mosque and its facilities are run by voluntary committee members.

The day saw many locals come in the mosque for the first time, one of them was Abertha who lives on Alice St,who said “A lot of problems around intolerance is because of ignorance, people don’t want to understand and days like these are the best way to educate yourself.”

Muslims pray at specific times during the day.

The Imam, Behroz Alvi further said “We don’t stop anyone from being a part of our community, as long as they respect our beliefs.” He feels there needs to be clarifications regarding the misconceptions of Islam in the West.

“People don’t understand for example why women and men pray separately, it is not because women are any different than men, but because out of respect for them.”

Daoud who has been the chairman for 20 years now stressed upon the same issue, “We’re all the same, when you come here there are no kings or queens or rulers, there are no boundaries or wars or politics, we’re all exactly the same, in peace.”

The SWIC assists in the advancement of Islam through Islamic studies courses.

The Imam also commented on the tie up between the Visit My Mosque initiative and Keep Britain Tidy movement, “It’s part of our religion to look after the Earth, it is as holy as our bodies.”

This  initiative, started in 2015 has grown over the years and tied up with Keep Britain Tidy, an initiative to focus on cleanliness across localities and faiths.

“Everyone is welcome, we believe in the same God as the Christians, there’s only one God. We have to respect each other for the sake of humanity,” said Daoud as he  left for his daily prayers.

Cardiff has always been a melting pot of religions and ethnicities, Islam too has a long standing relationship with the capital.