Talk to any ten people you know and you are likely to find that only three of them have ever been inside a place of worship that’s not their own faith.
Ask if they have been to a Mosque, and the figure will drop to one. At the most.
For most people that could mean that all they hear, or know, about Islam comes from the press. Mostly negative press.
Which is why Visit my Mosque Day was such an important event this week for our local Muslim communities.
Like any other open door event, is an opportunity to break down barriers.
An opportunity to overcome that negative press that means most people’s exposure to Islam is about the conflict in Syria or the actions of terrorists.
For the 1.5 million Muslims in the UK that is not a fair reflection on their culture.
In our multi-cultural society the more we can do to break down the barriers that ignorance creates the stronger and more integrated we can become.
During my visit to Blackhall Mosque I was invited to speak to the community and was immediately struck by the words of the late Jo Cox.
“There is more that unites us than divides us.”
But we can only really appreciate the truth of that statement if we take the time to get to know each other.
Dropping in to the Mosque to say hello and learn a little about the community is an important first step for all of us.