Police officers were forced to enter Chester Mosque before Friday prayers after a disagreement over the running of the place of worship threatened to boil over.
The Chronicle has been sent mobile footage shot at the mosque in Clifton Drive, Blacon, last Friday afternoon (September 30) where the all-male congregation were on their feet during a heated atmosphere.
Some members of the Muslim community have expressed embarrassment at the scenes in which voices were raised, there was finger-pointing and a degree of pushing and shoving but nobody was injured.
Police had been tipped off there could be trouble so were already on standby outside when they took the decision to enter around 1.45pm in a bid to calm the situation.
Members of the congregation were eventually allowed to continue with prayers, at which point the room fell silent, but everyone was instructed to disperse immediately afterwards. There were no arrests.
Police are due to meet with members of the Muslim community this week in a bid to find a way forward.
Abdun Noor, owner of the Chester Tandoori restaurant, said the row erupted as he was about make an announcement over the microphone. Mr Noor said he had been asked to call a meeting in a bid to form a new management committee and constitution.
He said: “Like every other community we have arguments from time to time. Somebody called the police because there were so many people in the mosque. There was no fight. It was just an argument. We have never had anything like that before. It’s really, really sad the police had to come.
“It’s about a community issue. We don’t have a committee for the mosque. I want to have a proper committee. Some people agree and some people disagree. I want the mosque to be open and transparent and to invite in the wider community. It’s in our interests.”
He added: “We are a close-knit community so we will sort it out because we need to move forward.”
The Chronicle has spoken to an anonymous member of the community with an opposing stance who claimed Mr Noor was interested in running the mosque.
But Mr Noor, who admitted he did not attend Friday prayers every week, issued a strong denial. He commented: “I have no ambition whatsoever to become mosque chair or anything like that. I have lots of other things to do.”
Both Mr Noor and his detractors said the situation was ‘embarrassing’ and had no issue with the police intervention even though officers had to enter in their shoes – normally removed out of respect to Allah – and female PCs were in attendance at what is normally an all-male affair.
A Cheshire Police spokeswoman said: “Following information received from the local community regarding an anticipated disturbance, Cheshire Police attended the mosque in Clifton Drive, Chester on Friday 30 September in order to keep the peace and provide reassurance.
“Unfortunately a minor disturbance broke out. However numerous officers attended to assist and this was quickly resolved. A meeting has been arranged this week with members to discuss the issue.”
Cheshire Police is asking for any mobile footage that may assist their enquiries to be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.