Huge show of support at Totterdown mosque

Huge show of support at Totterdown mosque
(Monday, January 25, 2016) 13:23

A nice cup of tea. That will sort it out. Any vague feelings that an attack on a mosque with bacon sandwiches would create even the slightest bit of tension in the local community have been quashed by plans to open the mosque doors to everyone for a nice cuppa.

Zaheer Shabir had scarcely put down the microphone when a man approached to grasp both of his hands.

Shaking them enthusiastically, the man told Shabir: "I've lived in Bristol all my life and that was the best 10 minutes of my life. My heart swelled with pride."

The man was just one of hundreds of people who squeezed into Jamia Mosque in Totterdown on Sunday afternoon, seven days after an attack which saw bacon sandwiches thrown against its front door and a flag of St George draped over its gates - a hate crime which has already seen four people charged.

Dozens more wellwishers milled about on the road outside, unable to get into the mosque but being warmly welcomed when space was available.

Zaheer Shabir - photo by Colin Moody

Plates of samosas and pakoras were passed around. Tea and coffee was served, biscuits eaten, and if you could hear them, various speeches were made at the front of the room by members of the mosque, different faith communities, a police representative and Bristol mayor George Ferguson.

"An attack on any one Bristolian, or any Bristol community, is an attack on us all. Thank you all for coming together," the mayor said succinctly, having spoken at the mosque the day after the attack about the friendship he has always experienced there.

Shabir himself was clearly moved by the turnout at Sunday's tea party. He introduced each of the speakers in turn and invited everybody back for an open day at the mosque next month.

He was especially thankful to Jon Evans, landlord of the Oxford pub, who helped collect together all of the hundreds of messages of support and presented them to the mosque in a folder, what Shabir called "the key factor for realising how supportive you have all been for us".

Shabir added: "Exactly seven days ago today, we were struck with shock, anxiety and fear. Seven days later, we have been cuddled with love and blessings by the many."

Pakoras being handed out at the tea party

Tea being served - photo by Colin Moody

The queue to get into the mosque - photo by Colin Moody
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