Standing up against anti-Muslim bigotry in the UK, a group of Church of England clergy have slammed far-right plans to stage a march against the construction of a mosque in the town of Burton, Staffordshire.
“We were disturbed by the intention, reported in the day’s Burton Mail, of the organization Britain First, to march in town on Saturday, October 17, in protest against plans for construction of a new mosque in Uxbridge Street,” 13 members of the clergy said in a letter cited by Huffington Post on Tuesday, September 29.
“We support, under the law, freedom of worship and religious assembly. We support, under the law, building for that purpose. We also support the right to legal civil protest.”
Members of the clergy were referring to Britain First’s anti-mosque march which is set for Saturday, October 17, in Uxbridge Street.
Catering to the growing Muslim population, the proposed mosque aims to double the capacity of the worshipping house from around 750 worshippers to 1,500.
Showing solidarity with the Muslim community of Burton, members of the Church of England Clergy wrote the letter to express their concern about the march.
“Thirteen of us Church of England Clergy in the Deanery of Tutbury, had one of our regular meetings on September 9,” they said.
“What disturbs us is the implication that ‘Britishness’ and Islam should be seen as incompatible.
“We hope the people of Burton will not let the good community relations be damaged by a confrontation with a considerable level of participation from outside our area.
“We offer good wishes to our brothers and sisters in the Muslim community.”
Responding to the clergy letter, members of Britain first posted on Facebook: “So called ‘Christians’ siding with Islam against Christians! Burton Mail now calling Britain First a ‘fascist group’! They are all running scared and they know we have support for our march!”
Islam is the second largest religion with results from the United Kingdom Census 2011 giving the UK Muslim population in 2011 as 2,786,635, 4.4% of the total population.
According to TELL MAMA, the number of hate crimes targeting Muslim women has witnessed a 5-10% increase over the last 18 months.
Hundreds of anti-Muslim hate offences have been carried out across UK in 2013, with Britain’s Metropolitan police recording an increase of 49% more than 2012.
The Metropolitan Police recorded 500 Islamophobic offences from January to mid-November that year, compared with 336 offences in 2012 and 318 in 2011.