Baiturrahman Grand Mosque (Indonesian: Mesjid Raya Baiturrahman) is a large mosque located in the centre of the city of Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia. It is of great symbolic significance to the Acehnese people as a symbol of Acehnese religion and culture, especially since it survived the devastating 2004 tsunami intact. – Wikipedia.

So I thought I had done everything I could to look respectful, I was wearing long baggy pants, had zipped my hoodie all the way up to my chin and covered all my hair with a scarf. I even asked a woman before I went inside if I looked ok, she said yes so I went for it. But still, within moments of settling myself inconspicuously in the very back I was approached by a man who brusquely asked me, “Are you Muslim?” At first I thought he was asking me where I was from, as that’s one of the things I am asked most often and his accent was undeniably think, but no he repeated it, “Are you a Muslim?” Well, I’m not about to lie, plus I would be found out pretty quickly if questioned about the theology so I said “No.” He said (still barely polite) “You must leave!” Ok, I’m not going to argue with that, though I would certainly like to. In all the churches, mosques, temples etc I have been into I have never been asked to leave. In fact in my very first mosque I was welcomed with open arms. I was, quite frankly, embarrassed for myself, but also for him. How unfortunate that he couldn’t find it in himself to be welcoming, to educate, to encourage acceptance, to be tolerant.

Fortunately, I’m a little sneaky when it comes to photos so I had managed to grab a few before getting the boot. 🙂