THE recitation of the Islamic call to prayer in Blackburn Cathedral will not happen again, its bosses pledged yesterday.

The controversial incident, involving a white-robed Muslim cleric or Imam, took place during a pre-Armistice Day concert by the town’s music society.

It came during a performance to 400 people of Karl Jenkins’ work The Armed Man (A Mass for Peace) which included the often-omitted second movement containing the call to prayer.

This was given by a local Imam and contains the phrase ‘there is no other God but Allah’.

Following a film of the event in the nave on Saturday, November 10, being posted on the internet, the Cathedral authorities came under criticism from Christian traditionalists. The Rev Kevin Logan, former vicar of Christchurch in Accrington, said: “It was inappropriate. It was wrong but we are all fallible and make mistakes. It should not happen again.”

The Dean of Blackburn, the Very Rev Peter Howell-Jones, said: “I only found about the inclusion of the Islamic call to prayer minutes before the performance.

“It was inappropriate and should not have happened in the Cathedral.

“I am sorry it took place and I am sorry if anyone was offended by it.

“I will make sure this does not happen again.

“The Cathedral is a centre of Christian witness but is open to all.

“One of the most important aspects of Christianity is hospitality and welcome and that is to all people irrespective of faith.

“I am sad this happened. I am not sad the Cathedral is open and welcoming.

“I would agree with Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, that it would be wrong for me to go into a mosque and preach a Gospel sermon.”

The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, said: “This was not a cathedral-organised event. I am told it was a private booking using the Cathedral as a concert venue.

“The Armed Man is sometimes performed in Christian settings, but without the call to prayer. The Dean has said he will be tightening up booking procedures to ensure the Cathedral is fully appraised of the content of private bookings before they go ahead in future. This will not happen again.

“The well-known composition focuses on the importance of peace to all religions including Christians, Muslims and Hindus. It has been performed in a wide variety of settings. This is particularly important to remember in a multi-faith town like Blackburn and at the time of the 100th anniversary of the First World War Armistice.

“I am sure the organisers were acting in good faith and were merely seeking to reflect this when staging the production.”

Joy Field, chair of Blackburn Music Society which arranged the concert booking the Cathedral, said: “I have no comment to make.”

The Rev Logan said: “I am satisfied this was a mistake and with the Dean’s promise it will not be repeated.”

Abdul Hamid Qureshi, chief executive of the Lancashire Council of Mosques, said: “I do not see reciting the call to prayer as offensive or as preaching.

“It was simply a recitation as part of a musical performance.

“I think some people are putting unfair pressure on the Blackburn Cathedral authorities who have taken part in some exemplary work to promore understanding between faiths.

“We have readings from the Bible, including the New Testament, in mosques from time to time.

“It is all about promoting understanding between different faiths and communities.”