MUSLIM leaders in York held an impromptu open day today, after receiving threats of a demonstration.
Officials at York Mosque, in Bull Lane, received a number of messages purporting to be from the English Defence League, which warned of a demonstration outside the building.
Professor Mohamed El-Gomati, from the University of York, is an elder at the Mosque, and said the messages indicated aggression following the death of drummer Lee Rigby, who was killed in Woolwich earlier this week.
Prof El-Gomati said: “We have already condemned that in the strongest language. Every right-minded person in the UK is angry but the anger should not be at your neighbours, the anger should be at the culprits who committed this heinous crime. If people sat down and talked, they may come to common, shared ground rather than shouting from a distance and not hearing what the other person is saying.”
More than 100 people attended the meeting, entering the Mosque to speak to the congregation and leaders, with a small representation from the EDL outside the building.
Prof El Gomati said: “Rather than have a shouting match outside we have invited people in to have a discussion and show solidarity over a cup of tea with us and see exactly what we are doing to dispel any myths. There is nothing better than knowledge.”
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said they had been made aware of the event, but no threats had been reported to them.
He said: "Officers from the local Safer Neighbourhood Team, who have a good working relationship with the local Imam, are supporting the communities through high visibility policing and local partnership liaison. North Yorkshire Police are continually monitoring social networking sites.”