The Bradford West Neighbourhood Policing Team visited the Al-Hikam Institute, in Bull Royd Lane, for a talk and tour with leading Imam, Muhammed Asim.
The Imam, who has nearly 200,000 followers on Facebook, briefed the officers on certain issues faced by mosques, as well as wanting to make them feel comfortable in this kind of setting. He said: “Mosques need to act actively with the police and vice versa. Visiting churches, synagogues, mosques, it comes under their job description.” He added: “One officer said before this, he didn’t feel comfortable coming into a mosque, but now he does. That’s my job.”
Imam Asim has spoken out in the past about dangerous driving and the “gangster lifestyle” within the Muslim community and feels police can help support tackling these issues.
He said: “With everything going on, the mosque and police need to play an active role, there needs to be strategies in place which can work effectively and comfortably.”
Police Sergeant, Jodie Scatchard, tweeted about the event saying: “Great evening tonight, building stronger relationships within the community we work.” Such relationships are important for the general safety of mosques, as well as safety during annual events such as Bonfire Night, according to Imam Asim. He said: “You never know when a mosque will be targeted.”
The hope is that police will be able to help protect the mosques, as well as feeling comfortable to enter a mosque in order to deal with an incident.
In this sense, the Imam mentioned that the evening was useful for tackling potential taboos. He said: “We want the police to have an active role within mosques, checking up while keeping the sanctity. We spoke of issues of walking past people who are praying – if needs be, [police] may need to wear shoes to defuse a situation. We gave a perspective from the mosque and how to deal with that.”
The event was also good for dispelling distrust of the police, according to the Imam. He said: “Absolutely, it’s a positive event, especially for Bradford. Police are working with mosques within Bradford – we’re building a bridge and breaking barriers between police and mosques.”
According to the Imam, some of these barriers include a lack of police presence around mosques, or advertisement of such activity. But, he hopes this successful “team-bonding” session will be the beginning of a widespread dialogue between police and the mosques of Bradford.
West Yorkshire Police – Bradford West tweeted their thanks to the mosque and Imam. The tweet said: “Was great to take the team to meet @ImamAsimH this evening, and we are looking forward to continuing to work together.”
The original article can be found at https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/16837986.imam-we-want-the-police-to-have-an-active-role-within-mosques/