An American Islamic group has been advising British mosques on security measures, including the installation of safe rooms and panic alarms, warning that they are at greater risk than in any other western country.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has discussed its revamped security regulations with the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) in light of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, in Woolwich, south-east London, which it said had even provoked attacks in the United States.
The security improvements encouraged by CAIR, America’s largest Muslim advocacy group, encourage the building of transparent fences around mosques, wire screens on windows, designated security officials, three-inch-thick doors, panic alarms and safe rooms.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, said: “From the outside it definitely seems UK mosques are more at risk than anywhere, including the States. There have been a number of recent incidents targeting UK mosques, groups like the English Defence League marching on mosques and a spike in violent right-wing groups.”
Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the MCB, said, while a panic alarm that could instantly alert police might in certain areas be installed, it was vital mosques did not become too security conscious. “We don’t want mosques going overboard, where it’s almost like a fortified place. We want these places to be open, and seen to be welcoming places that people would not hesitate to visit. Clearly our American friends have shown concern for us and have shared their safety and security measures. Although not all are relevant, we can learn from each other’s experiences. The common foe is a criminal we wish to keep out.”
Hooper said his group had recently contacted the FBI after a mosque in Georgia was vandalised with apparent reference to the murder of Rigby. The sign for the Islamic Centre of North Fulton was spray-painted with the phrase “London Justice”.