CAIRO – A Muslim group has revived plans to build a London mega-mosque close to the Olympic site after years of suspending the project due to repeated protests.
“We are expecting another application by the end of this week and will then start a formal consultation process,” a spokesman for Newham council’s planning department told the Evening Standard.
The 12,000-capacity mosque was first proposed by the Tablighi Jamaat group in 1999 in a bid to build Britain’s biggest place of worship in West Ham.
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It will have 40ft minarets, a library, a visitor centre and a 300-space car park at the Canning Road site.
Mosque construction was delayed following opposition to the mosque which started as early as 1999 when the group submitted its first plans.
In 2001, it agreed that worship would only be on a temporary basis.
In 2010, the council issued an enforcement notice but it successfully appealed against it last year and more than 5,000 people a week now worship at the site which houses several prefab buildings.
Questioning the intentions of the Tablighi Jamaat group, Alan Craig, campaign director of MegaMosque No Thanks and a former Newham councillor, opposed the mosque plans.
“The community is concerned about the harm this will have on Newham,” Craig said.
“It is inappropriately large, but we also have worries about the group behind it.”
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.5 million.
A Financial Times opinion poll showed that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.
A poll of the Evening Standard found that a sizable section of London residents harbor negative opinions about Muslims.
Supporting Muslims’ right to build their own places of worship, civil groups said it was important to understand the Tablighi Jamaat rather than simply rejecting it.
“To have harbored terrorists does not necessarily mean that Tablighi Jamaat is therefore a hotbed of terrorism, but it does mean we need to take it much more seriously,” said Dr Jenny Taylor, who runs charity Lapido Media which aims to create better understanding of religious affairs.
“Especially in light of their plans for the mosque.”
Taylor has recently published the series of Handy Books on Religion in World Affairs; the first of which tackles the complexities of the global missionary movement thought to be a key influence on Muslim terrorists targeting Britain.
"This group is often misunderstood,’ she said about the Muslim missionary group.
“Their apparent desire to integrate is at odds with their dress, speech, observance and writings, which require them to be distinctive.
“They are deeply spiritual, yet many terrorists have found succor in their midst.”
Maintaining its main objective as peaceful missionary work, the group said its doors are always open to welcome those who have questions about Islam and Muslims.
“The door is always open,” said a spokesman for Anjuman-E-Islahul-Muslimeen of London UK Trust, Tablighi Jamaat’s charitable trust and the site’s owner.
“We are happy to meet and discuss in depth our proposals.”
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