The Mosque is an iconic structure representing the Islamic faith and a place for Muslim worshipers and the community at large to find peace and solace within its confines. These structures have been a symbol of peace, cohesion and communities of all creeds and colour have invested in them to for mutual benefit. To protect these places of worship and community and social integration from harm the following suggestions and actions points have been compiled to facilitate their safety and security.
Mosque, Islamic Centres & Madrassah Security & Safety Tips:
- Prepare and Plan: Your management and executive team should meet and assess the levels of risk for your buildings, congregation, neighbours and local community. Engage you local police, fire or prevent engagement officers. Seek their professional advice on security protocols and local protocols for emergencies. They may have a local risk assessment that they can share with you to help judge the level of risk in your area.
- Report Threats: Immediately document and report all threats, suspicious activities, packages or persons to the police. Do not make any attempts to confront threatening persons or touch suspicious packages. If you receive any threatening mail or emails keep them and hand them over to the police. Inform your congregation especially via Jummah khutba’s (Friday Sermons) that if they are confronted by Islamaphopic abuse (Physical or verbal), mail or emails that they should also report this. Ensure all Muslim women within family and friends circle are advised about increased awareness for self security, support and the need to report any incidents to agencies.
- Install Alarms and Cameras: Install fire (smoke and heat) and security alarm systems that are connected to local police and fire departments where possible. Make sure all access points are observed by security cameras that have remote off-site backup. Do emergency checks to ensure all equipment is in working order and fit for purpose.
- Keep Outside Areas Clean and Visible: Remove potential fire hazards, such as rubbish and debris and trim shrubs and vines to reduce areas of concealment. Install perimeter floodlights to cover the outside grounds and parking spaces.
- Health and Safety: Review all emergency exists, entry points, fire hydrants, all staff need to be aware of emergency protocols especially Madrassah teachers, Imams, all paid staff and volunteers, first aiders, fire wardens. Your protocols need to be rehearsed before Jummah pray and all members of the team need to be aware of their responsibility before major events in your centre.
- Plan for the Long-Term: Establish a security committee to work with Police with the goal of developing long-term security plans, threat assessments, crisis plans, trainings, and drills. Annually hold safety trainings and evacuation drills for all staff, volunteers, and worshippers. Your health and safety protocols need to be accessible in the premises for all staff and volunteers.
- Communication: Keep your congregation informed on any developments and changes in procedures and protocols of the Mosque. Keep a direct channel of communication open to the congregation, staff and volunteers to key members of the management committee of the mosque. Keep your website and all social media platforms (facebook and Twitter) up to date with any announcements and actions. Refresh the notice board and have useful contact information displayed.
- Locking up and securing Mosque: Particular attention should be paid during opening of your mosque at Fajr and closing after Isha prayers. Highly recommended that these times are managed by more than one person. The Mosques should be looked over and all entry and exits points are secured, alarms and security equipment activated.
- Working in partnership: Think local – your local Police (Neighbourhood Teams, Community & Diversity Officers, if unaware of who they are, make contact and establish a link) and fire Safety teams will be ready to assist if you engage. Remember to report any suspicious activity, attack, abuse and discuss awareness with others and encourage them to report any such incidents too.
- Mosque Open day: Remove any suspicions, open your Mosques to the wider community especially your local non Muslim neighbours. Be transparent and engaging as this will prevent external forces who wish to cause disharmony and have ill intent against your Mosque to exploit local tensions.
Courtesy of Faith Associates. A PDF version can be downloaded here.