Mosques and madressas were urged to look at how they improve their own security at a special meeting last night.

The Lancashire Council of Mosques hosted a presentation at Bangor Street Community Centre in Blackburn and were joined by Shaukat Warraich of Faith Associates.

The event was held following the Christchurch terror attacks in which 50 people were gunned down by a right-wing extremist.

Since then mosques up and down the country have been looking at their own security arrangements and the safety of their worshippers.

The event was chaired by Chairman of Lancashire Council of Mosques, Abdul Hamid Qureshi with an introduction by Maullana Rafiq Sufi.

In attendance was Colin from the Community Security Trust which among other things aims to promote good relations between British Jews and the rest of British society by working towards the elimination of racism, and antisemitism in particular.

The discussions looked to find common ground between Jews and Muslims in addressing security concerns at their religious buildings.

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Speaking on the night Shaukat Warraich said mosques and madressas could follow simple procedures to improve safety.

The Mosque Security & Safety Tips has been developed by Faith Associates to aid Management Committees in protecting the sacred institution.

This safety began with plans for evacuation in case of an emergency.

Mr Warraich was surprised how many don’t do simple fire drills, “A simple evacuation procedure is something I see rarely at mosques and madressas.

“How many children use these premises on a daily basis? Hundreds?”

He added, “I came from London and most of the masajids were releasing their children (The end of the teaching period). The streets were busy and children were running around yet I only one saw person with a hi-viz jacket on.

“We have invested millions of pounds on physical infrastructure. Now is the time to start investing in people.”

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There was a keen focus on keeping the wider community informed about the mosque. Mr Warraich said opening up the mosques to neighbours the first line of defence for any building were non-Muslims.

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He also told that when visiting mosques the security camera in some tended to focus on keeping the chandah (charity) box safe rather than the more serious issues relating to safety.

Earlier he shared facts and figures on hate crimes that have led to attacks on Muslims, Jews and Christians. Mr Warraich pointed out the perpetrators that targeted Mosques were also likely to target other places of worship.

And in particular he told the audience of a meeting a former far-right extremist who said he would find spots over looking mosques, “This man told me they used to monitor what time the mosque opened and watch when women come and when do children come to the madressa.

“Then when it was time to attack. This is his words – they wanted to strike at the heart of the Muslims. They believed the heart of the Muslims was the masjid.

“He was a member of Combat 18.”

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