Serving a City of Sanctuary & Compassion: The Edinburgh 2050 City Vision


Edinburgh Central Mosque participated in two ground breaking events this week inspiring it to express its new vision as a mosque actively and creatively serving a “City of Sanctuary & Compassion.”

The problems we face as a global humanity cannot be solved at the same level of thinking which created them in the first place. We recognise the need for initiative, creativity and hybridity in bringing solutions to the table.

“In 2016, we are a successful city where population is growing … and whose strong economy and quality of life is recognised across the world. With this vibrancy and growth come many challenges …  increased inequality … pressure on our city infrastructure and environment, we know that the city needs to adapt and change again … This is why the city is embarking on a project to develop a vision for 2050. Developing this vision will involve residents of all ages, businesses and groups from all sectors coming together to agree the type of city we all want Edinburgh to be.” The City of Edinburgh Council.

The first of the two events occurred at the beginning of the 2016 Scottish Interfaith Week on Tuesday 15th November. The occasion was a ‘Religious Leaders and Faith Representatives meeting’ at Edinburgh City Chambers with the aim of exploring the potential proposal of Edinburgh becoming a ‘Compassionate City’ as its 2050 vision. It included a presentation by Professor John Gillies ‘Edinburgh as a compassionate city; where faith and science come together’. Representatives of faith communities shared their stories of fruitful engagement with their neighbours of other faiths and non-faith and how that strengthened compassionate community engagement. The meeting gave useful insights into identifying ways in which the faith communities and their leaders could contribute to Edinburgh realising its 2050 vision.

The second event was ‘Mapping Sanctuary in Edinburgh’ supported by: The City of Edinburgh Council and City of Sanctuary Edinburgh on Saturday 19th November. The occasion was a “sharing of information, learning about what is happening and exploring ideas for working together to welcome refugees and asylum seekers in Edinburgh.” Networking and exploring what’s on the ground were key to the event. Participants from various organisations and communities ‘mapped’ all the places, services and initiatives within the various parts of the city that welcome and support refugees and asylum seekers – places where one could go to seek help and feel part of the community.

20161119_1144471 Some of the themes which emerged from the ‘mapping’ and discussions included: Befriending, Mental Health, Health & Wellbeing, Housing, Language and making Information available, Work & Employment, Enabling healthy diversity, Food, Children & Young people, Sport, Leisure & Recreation.

As a community, we thought: instead of waiting for 2050 to come, why not embrace the vision right now? How are we going to be a mosque serving a City of Sanctuary & Compassion? We aspire to do that through a dedicated ethos of serving Edinburgh through our space, our facilities, in our outreach activities and especially through knowing and understanding each other.

Collecting Our History: The Tapestry of Heritage Project


 “Let those present among you inform the absent” words uttered by our Prophet Muhammad – prayers and peace be upon him – teaching this nation the importance of handing down history across the generations. The Muslim population of Edinburgh is very much alive in this welcoming city. We wish to collect some of its important history especially in relation to the building of the city’s central mosque. We are therefore glad to cooperate with the ‘Tapestry of Heritage’ project in recruiting volunteers and research interns.

We would like to invite those interested in being a part of making history to a meeting at Edinburgh Central Mosque on Sunday 9th of October at 1.45pm (after dhuhr) about this exciting project.

The Tapestry of Heritage project is being co-ordinated by Carrie Alderton at the Edinburgh Inter-Faith Association and aims to investigate the history of different religions or faith communities in Edinburgh with an overall aim to show how religious communities, especially minority religious communities, play a vital role in the current social fabric of Edinburgh and its history.

As a part of this initiative, Edinburgh Central Mosque is specifically looking to compile the history of the Mosque and we are looking for research interns to gather this information in tandem with the Tapestry of Heritage project.

Carrie Alderton and Yahya Barry, the Imam of ECM will be present at the meeting to discuss it in more detail. We wish to encourage members of the community from all backgrounds and walks of life to attend – whether interested specifically in researching the history of Edinburgh Central Mosque or more generally in researching the history of the Edinbugh Muslim community.

Official Statement Regarding the Fire Incident


In the early hours of Sunday morning, around about 2.10 am, an individual lit and cast a flammable object towards the mosque’s main entrance. The mosque was locked at the time of the incident, and no services were taking place. The incident caused neither injury nor was there any physical damage to the building. Police Scotland have accessed CCTV footage from the mosque’s security cameras and have launched an official investigation.

At this early stage, the indications are that it is an isolated incident from a suspect with no known links to any far-right groups. The Police have reassured us and the wider community that there remains no persistent threat and that their checks to safeguard all religious communities remain firmly in place. The mosque’s activities continue as normal and we are glad to announce our participation in the Doors Open Days this weekend: the 24th and 25th of September.

Our position in light of the incident remains staying calm, yet being vigilant, realistic and responsible. It is indeed business as usual for us. We would like to reinforce the fact that we very much belong and feel part and parcel of Edinburgh. The incident highlights that although there may be isolated sentiments of hostility, we as part of the city’s cultural fabric shall play our role in social cohesion and will not be deterred by such incidents.

We do not want an overreaction, victimisation nor be seen to ask for special treatment. We therefore endorse no solidarity marches and demonstrations in response to the incident. We thank Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire Brigade for their professionalism as well as appreciate the kind sentiments expressed by our neighbours and friends.