The Muslim Council of Britain continues to coordinate with mosques, Muslim charities, and Councils of Mosques across the UK in response to the Government’s call for a second national lockdown across England. This is in addition to the current restrictions in Wales and Northern Ireland, and regional tier system in Scotland.
Harun Khan, Secretary General of the MCB, said: “A new national lockdown will have ramifications for us all. We must continue to work together to find the most effective ways to keep everyone safe, support our NHS and saves lives. It is disappointing the Prime Minister did not mention the impact on places of worship, leaving Muslims and other faith communities with inadequate guidance. Clarity must be provided as a matter of urgency.”
The government’s inadequate consultation and poor engagement with faith communities remain a problem as the pandemic endures.
Khan added: “Imams, mosques, Islamic associations, charities and the army of volunteers that support them have played – and are continuing to play – a crucial role in filling the gap by providing spiritual, social and welfare support for all communities. The second wave will in many ways be harder than the first – we pray for patience, fortitude, and unity across the nation in the difficult weeks ahead.”
Mosques and Madrassas
The new restrictions indicate that places of worship in England must close for congregational worship, but can remain open for ‘individual prayer’. The status of supplementary schools (madrasas) is still unclear.
The distinction around individual worship is not straightforward or practical for many mosques, compared to other faith communities. This will have a real impact on Muslim communities across the country.
Furthermore, since having re-opened as COVID-secure venues in July, there is no apparent evidence that places of worship have been a primary driver for the virus’ propagation. Given the centrality of congregational prayer to so many Muslims’ lives, it is not clear why places of worship are grouped alongside other public venues where social interaction is conducted very differently.
The MCB and partner organisations are writing to the Government to outline these concerns and call for an urgent evidence based re-assessment of the status of places of worship, taking into account the societal harms closing them poses.