A survivor of the terror attacks that took place on the beaches of Sousse, Tunisia in June met with Imam Hashmi of the Woking ‘Shah Jahan’ Mosque in an attempt to get a better understanding of the religion under whose name the atrocity was committed.
Colin Bidwell of Windlesham miraculously escaped the terror attack that took place in Tunisia. He was witness to the horrors that unfolded on the day and recounts how bullets grazed his body as he was fleeing for his life.
It was pandemonium, I crouched and ran to the end of the sun beds then ran towards a speed boat pulled up on the sand and lay down behind it and hid.
Once the ordeal was over and the perpetrator had been killed, Mr Bidwell went about trying to make sense of what had taken place and attempted to bring some normality back into his life. A key aspect of this has been his efforts to overcome the trauma he has been affected by.
Another key aspect on the road to recovery for Colin was tying to gain a better understanding of the religion of Islam. Mr Bidwell says that,
I kept thinking ‘I must go to the mosque’. It wasn’t that I was angry, I just knew nothing about the Muslim faith.
In order to try and gain this understanding, Mr Bidwell visited The Shah Jahan Mosque in Woking. This mosque is considered to be the oldest in Britian and has a rich heritage of interfaith engagement. It is here where he met Imam Hashmi and began asking questions about the Islamic faith in order to get an better idea of its core tenets.
Mr Bidwell said,
After the first meeting with the Imam it felt okay, it felt as if I was doing the right thing. I’ll see where this takes me, if it takes me to a good place and helps me deal with what happened, then that’s good.
The role of the Muslim community in this instance is key. As Mosques and Imams, we must ensure that our doors remain open for non-Muslims who have genuine questions and a genuine desire to understand more about Islam. The role of faith leadership in this instance needs to be aware of the issues that will arise and be honest and open with non-Muslims in order for their misconceptions to be removed.