In the early morning hours, persons unknown broke the windows of Ihsan Mosque in Chapel Field and fled.
Thank God, no-one was hurt in the attack, as the only person present was in the kitchen in the back of the building. And what was he doing? He was preparing food for visiting children from an East Anglian secondary, who arrived Monday morning to find the shattered front windows boarded up.
“So saddened by this mindless act…” a note of support, taped to the Mosque door.
The attack vindicates my previous claims that Muslims do need to provide more than standard mosque tours. In fact, with the very ambitious new school field-trip programme Enquiry & Immersion, we hope to establish the Muslims of Norwich as a valuable resource for subject knowledge on Islam and to moderate negative stereotyping by facilitating religious literacy through independent enquiry and personal encounters.
It is unlikely that the timing of the attack is directly related to this new educational initiative. However, I do wish to clarify to any concerned parties, parents and teachers, that students are not being sat down in Ihsan Mosque and indoctrinated. On the contrary, the new enquiry element allows pupils to explore, discuss and decide what they actually think about Islam, including Jihad, gender issues, etc. I also would like to note that all materials are carefully picked in association with RE coordinators from Norfolk schools.
Mind now full – rather than mindless – and primed with questions, pupils then have the opportunity to informally sit and chat with community members over lunch, ask questions in a personalised setting, before seeing the prayer and touring the mosque.
I have noted before that drilling children, Muslims or not, with high-flying claims about Islam which are disproved by daily news is not a solution to community cohesion issues. A successful 21st century Britain requires investigative and critical thinking skills above all else.
In presenting Enquiry & Immersion, we hope to establish the Muslims of Norwich as a valuable resource for education and to moderate negative stereotyping by facilitating religious literacy through independent enquiry and personal encounters.
The community wishes to thank, Ruth Phelps, Jan McLachlan of ‘We Are Norwich – against racism and fascism’ and the many others who showed up or voiced their support.