Coronavirus: East London Mosque, Whitechapel closes to prayers for first time in its history

East London Mosque in Whitechapel has closed to worshippers because of coronavirus. Picture: Google

East London Mosque in Whitechapel has closed to worshippers because of coronavirus. Picture: Google - Credit: Google

The UK’s largest mosque has closed for public prayers for the first time in its history to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The East London Mosque in Whitechapel, which can accommodate more than 7,000 worshippers for congregational prayers, closed on Thursday afternoon in response to the government’s social distancing advice.

Today is the first time the mosque has not hosted Friday prayers since it opened in 1985.

A spokesman said Imams would be running online talks and giving support over the telephone while closures were in place.

He said: “As we try to adjust to the profound change in our circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic, not least the closure of mosques for congregational prayers, it’s vital we all play a part in holding things together.”

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“The East London Mosque is continuing to serve the community in any way it can. Its Imams will deliver regular online talks, and maintain telephone support for their advice service. We’re looking at ways of reaching out to the needy and vulnerable in our community. And we’re keeping the adhan and jama’ah alive with the handful of staff who live in the mosque complex.”

Tower Hamlets Inter Faith Forum today asked all places of worship to follow the East London Mosque’s example and close to the public.

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In a letter forum chairman Reverend Alan Green, Leon Silver, President of the East London Central Synagogue, and Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs said: “In the face of this virus, we ask all faith buildings in Tower Hamlets to cease public worship until it is safe enough to recommence.

“This demonstrates the solidarity between all faiths and our commitment to everyone in Tower Hamlets. Some may find ways to keep buildings open safely for private reflection and prayer, but bringing people together for worship should stop now.”

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