Mosques across Norwich have been working hard in recent years to develop understanding of the Islamic faith and culture, and to improve community relations. Starting with the establishment of the Ihsan Mosque near Chapelfield Gardens in 1977, there are also mosques in Dereham Road, Rose Lane and Aylsham Road, and a community centre in Sandy Lane. Not only is the local Muslim community small but it is geographically isolated from larger communities in Birmingham, London and Yorkshire.
by Adam Edwards
On February 10th the lead-panelled windows of Norwich’s Ihsan Mosque were smashed by vandals unknown. The mosque on Chapelfield East was founded in the 1970s, and was the first in the UK to be established by British converts to Islam, rather than by a nascent immigrant community. Nobody, except perhaps the proverbial rock-lobber yet knows why the windows of this former 19th century schoolhouse were smashed last Saturday morning, but beneath the pall of islamophobia that grows heavy in the wake of an atrocity like the one that rocked Paris in January and ensuing media frenzy, we seem keen to race to conclusions.
Following the vandalism, the non-Muslim community has rallied around the mosque, inundating it with messages support. Its doors have been covered now with colourful paper hearts bearing words of solidarity and friendship, from simple exclamations of “Peace”, the uncomfortable and memetic rendering “Je suis Ihsan.”