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Mosques open their doors for the day to reach out and reassure
Mohamed Said was roughly halfway through a potted lecture on the pillars of Islam, taking in everything from the DNA of wine grapes to Malcolm X, when he brought up the troubled history of the building in which he stood.
"You can check every place," he told the 20 or so visitors in the men's prayer room of Finsbury Park mosque, north London, during an inaugural national open day for Islamic places of worship. "We haven't got any bombs. Yes, there is a bad history here, but we have changed that. Those people were not representative of Islam."
By "those people", Said meant the radical cleric Abu Hamza and his supporters, who seized control of the mosque in the late 1990s and turned it into arguably the UK's foremost centre for radical Islam, a troubling period that culminated in a massive armed police raid on the building in 2003.
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