The Ministry of Defence has apologised after it emerged replica mosques were being used by the British Army on a North Yorkshire firing range.

A Muslim group has demanded the removal of the structures at Catterick and accused the Army of reinforcing negative perceptions of Muslims.

An Army spokesperson said: “We apologise for any offence that we may have caused.”

It is now seeking a meeting with the Muslim community to discuss the issue.

The Bradford Council for Mosques (BCM) said it was particularly angry as it had been assisting the army in its efforts to recruit more Muslims.

There are seven of the structures on the range at Bellerby, which have green-domed roofs.

It was never our intention for these generic structures to look like or replicate mosques
Army spokesperson

The Army spokesperson added: “It was never our intention for these generic structures to look like or replicate mosques, only to provide a setting similar to operational environments in which our personnel could train.

“We are seeking a meeting with representatives from the Muslim community to hear their concerns in order to discuss the way forward.”

‘Conditioning’ claim

Saleem Khan, the chief executive of the BCM, called for the Army to apologise.

“They do owe apologies to the Muslim community and it is the mindset which needs changing,” he said.

Ishtiaq Ahmed, of the BCM said that the structures were undoubtedly meant to resemble mosques.

“The shape of the structures, the colour of the dome – the green dome – symbolises an Islamic place of worship,” he said. “Anyone looking at it will think about mosques and Muslims and think about them negatively.”

He accused the Army of reinforcing negative perceptions of Muslims.

“What angers me very much is that we are conditioning the young British to say that mosques are a place where you are going to find danger and a place to target,” Mr Ahmed said. “That is really disturbing.”

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/uk_news/england/north_yorkshire/8609650.stm

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