An initiative by the Muslim Council of Britain to dispel the suspicion and mystery surrounding what goes on inside the UK’s 1,700 mosques spectacularly backfired yesterday after a well known news presenter was refused entry.
Channel 4 news anchor Cathy Newman tweeted about her experience visiting the Streatham Mosque, a converted Edwardian fire station, yesterday. Despite dressing “respectfully” for the occasion, Newman said she was “ushered” outside. Her protest that it was mosque open day apparently “made no difference” as she was ejected.
The confusion appears to have stemmed from the fact that there are a number of mosques in Streatham, only one of which had been warned by the Muslim Council to be welcoming to visitors. Accidentally turning up at the wrong mosque, Newman apparently received the same welcome any other woman would find on an ordinary Sunday.
Newman was welcomed at another mosque in the area, the Hyderi centre where she was reportedly given tea and biscuits. Insisting the harsh welcome was down to the Streatham Islamic Centre being unprepared to receive any guests, rather than just operating a policy of turning away women, a co-director of the Hyderi centre is reported by the Daily Mail as saying: She was always supposed to come to our centre. She had been sent to the wrong mosque.
“When she arrived they weren’t expecting any guests. It wasn’t because she was a woman, but because they weren’t operating any open door policy that day. They weren’t expecting any visitors or holding any services either, I think.
“Once she arrived at our centre we gave her a cup of tea and had a chat. We apologised for the incident and clarified that she should base that as an example of Islam”.