York mosque - tea protest

Tea, biscuits and football helped to diffuse a potentially volatile situation at York mosque it was reported, after members of the far-right English Defence League (EDL) turned up to protest.

The mosque had received aggressive threats from the far-right group shortly before their arrival.

The EDL expressed anger at Muslims worshipping there and connected the death of Lee Rigby with Islam rather than terrorists.

When the EDL supporters turned up at the mosque, they were greeted by worshippers, including children – some who held signs that read “York Mosque welcomes anyone who condemns extremist violence.”

Around 100 people went inside and spoke with members from the mosque, however a small number of EDL demonstrators remained outside, it was reported.
The mosque also had tea, biscuits and custard creams ready for the demonstrators, and invited them in when they arrived. After about 30 to 40 minutes of talking, some of the EDL supporters agreed to come inside.

According to a report which appeared in the Guardian, tensions were defused following the invitation, and the confrontation eventually culminated in a game of football.

One EDL member, Leanne Staven told the paper: “In light of what happened to that soldier in Woolwich there have to be restrictions on people learning extremist behaviour and it has to stop.”

Her thoughts were echoed by Ismail Miah, president of York mosque who said: “Under the banner of Islam there are very different politics: democratic politics, the far right, left, central, all over. You can’t target a whole community for what one or two people have done.

“What they’ve done in London is for their own reasons but there’s no reasoning behind it from an Islamic point of view.

“Rather than have a shouting match outside we have invited people in to have a discussion and show solidarity over a cup of tea with us and see exactly what we are doing to dispel any myths. There is nothing better than knowledge.”

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