Sightseeing? Why not take in the 7/7 bombers’ mosque

Wonders never cease.

From The Telegraph U.K.

Church of England recommends 7/7 bombers’ mosque as tourist destination

A mosque used by the 7/7 suicide bombers is being promoted by the Church of England as a tourist destination.

Martin Beckford and Jonathan Wynne-Jones
Published: 8:00AM BST 08 Sep 2009

The building in Beeston, which the leader of the terrorist gang used as a recruiting ground, is the only Muslim place of worship included in the Church’s official sightseeing guide to religious “staycations”.

It has prompted fresh calls for the Church – condemned last year when the Archbishop of Canterbury called for some aspects of Sharia to be adopted in Britain – to avoid further embarrassment by steering clear of all matters Islamic.

The established religion set up a new section of its website this summer, in order to capitalise on the trend for Britons hit by the recession to take their holidays at home.

It states: “If you are taking a staycation this year, make sure you visit your local church or cathedral – which, via its guidebooks, art and architecture, will more than likely offer an inspiring overview of the history of your area.”

Its guide to the religious attractions of 12 counties suggests days out to historic chapels, abbeys and cathedrals.

But the section on Yorkshire also recommends joining the Beeston Hill Faith Trail, a weekly walking tour that takes in a mosque linked to the 7/7 terrorists, as well as a Sikh temple and an Anglican church.

It says: “Muslims, Sikhs and Christians in Beeston Hill, Leeds, are building community spirit by throwing open their doors to encourage visitors and local residents to see inside. The Beeston Hill Faith Trail, part of the Treasures Revealed in West Yorkshire project … will include the Kashmiri Muslim Welfare Association and Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira, the GNNSJ Sikh Gurdwara, and the Holy Spirit Anglican Church.”

The Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira, also known as the Hardy Street mosque, was where Mohammed Sidique Khan – the leader of the gang who killed 52 people when they blew themselves up on London’s transport system on July 7, 2005 – had a job as a youth worker. It was also where another of the bombers, Shehzad Tanweer, and his family worshipped.

Sidique Khan set up a gym in the basement of the place of worship – which acquired the name of the “al-Qaeda gym” – and used it as a base for recruiting alienated youths to the cause of radical Islam.

The sports club later moved elswhere and Sidique Khan abandoned the mosque as his outlook became increasingly radical. There is no suggestion that the mosque has any extremist links.

The Church of England defended its choice of tourist destinations.

A spokesman said: “There’s no reason people shouldn’t discover the reality of Muslim lives via that mosque as opposed to the extremes.”

David Thompson, project manager for Treasures Revealed in West Yorkshire, which is part of the Churches Regional Commission for Yorkshire and the Humber, said the tourist trail had been drawn up with the help of the local communities and was not intended to highlight any former link between the 7/7 bombers and the mosque.

He said: “What we are promoting it as, is an example of the UK’s main faiths working together happily, hand in hand.

“They are pleased to be playing a role in breaking down the barriers or misconceptions and myths. They see themselves a torch-bearers in the move towards a multicultural society.”

But Douglas Murray, a director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, a leading think tank, advised the Church of England to stick to its own faith rather than “blundering” into other people’s.

He said: “It would seem to be an odd place to start if you wanted to understand Islam or Muslims.

“That the Church thinks of this mosque, of all mosques, simply shows this is an area it should not step into.

“You would have thought the Church would have learned from its last vacation in this area.”

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