Muslim community leaders in Preston say they have seen voting turnout increase in the most recent elections.Advertisement
Mosques and madrasahs in the city say they worked to explain the importance of voting to their congregations.
Preston’s Muslim Engagement and Development group (MEND) say more than 1,000 extra Muslims voted in this year’s elections compared to previous years.
Imam Imtiyaz Kamal of Saliheen mosque in Broadgate said: “I advised my congregation yesterday (Wednesday) after evening prayers about the importance of voting and not letting one’s vote go to waste. The announcement was received very positively.”
The group stresses it did not ask Muslims to support one part or another, but just to go out and cast their vote.
Turnout in the local elections in Preston was at 33%.
Faisal Riley, a co-ordinater of the Preston group and an optometrist, said: “There are many mosques in Preston and the target was set at this 1,000 extra voters.
“It was ambitious but by taking a mosque-by-mosque approach we had a massive reach into the community. Next year we hope to widen our reach and do better.”
Related: Ward by ward breakdown of Preston council elections
The initiative was backed by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum.
Clive Grunshaw, who has been re-elected as Police and Crime Commissioner for Lancashire, said: “The response from the British Asian community to the PCC election has been very encouraging.
“They have been extremely engaged in the process. This is an example of their concerns and fears over some of the negative narrative in sections of the media and society, and also the willingness to do something positive to address the situation.”
His Conservative rival, a former Lancashire Police Superintendent Andrew Pratt, aaid: “The mosques and the wider Muslim community in Preston have taken the initiative to promote civic responsibility to ensure people get out and vote.”
Councillor Drew Gale, who was re-elected to the town centre ward in Preston, said: “From what I have seen at the polling stations on Thursday the turnout from the Muslim community has been high.
“It’s really pleasing to see all the demographics in our community engaging in democracy.”
What do you think of the initiative? Do you think religious groups should get involved in encouraging voting? Let us know in the comments below