Bradford’s acting bishop denounces far-right swoop on mosques

Bradford’s acting bishop has spoken out against the “disgraceful behaviour” of a far-right group at mosques in the district and at the Keighley home of the Lord Mayor.

Britain First members entered the places of worship on March 10, handing out Bibles and urging worshippers to renounce Islam, as well as visiting the home of the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Khadim Hussain. Bishop Tom Butler, Acting Bishop of Bradford, has condemned the group’s actions. He made the comments at a special civic service at Bradford Cathedral, attended by Coun Hussain.

In his address, Bishop Butler said: “Mr Lord Mayor, I say that none of you expect thanks, but neither do you expect the appalling treatment which you experienced when a delegation arrived at your home demanding to meet you. I can well understand your daughters felt intimidated, and I hope there is no repeat of such disgraceful behaviour in a city that has worked so hard to develop good relationships between the communities and the faiths.”

He added: “The situation is made worse in my eyes when other protesters at mosques carried Bibles and seemed to be claiming Christian authority for their behaviour. Mr Mayor, our holy books, be they the Bible or the Koran, are not to be waved in people’s faces like a weapon. They are to be treated with reverence and respect, and that has always been the tradition in this great city of Bradford.”

Coun Hussain said the bishop’s comments had been “well received” at the service. He said: “He was very strong. He made it quite clear it is nothing to do with Christianity. These people are obviously using Christianity for their own agenda, just like at the other end of the spectrum, where some people use Islam for their own purposes.”

The vice-chairman of the Bradford Council for Mosques, Zulfi Karim, welcomed the comments, saying local mosques had also received support from Sikh, Hindu and Jewish communities.

Keighley News, 2 June 2014