LONDON – Opposition to plans to build a mega mosque in East London is growing, with British Muslims themselves are casting doubts on the intention of the group behind the worship place.
“Muslims themselves oppose this mosque,” Asqhar Bukhari, a spokesperson for the UK branch of the Muslim Public Affairs Committee, told Russia Today on Tuesday, October 30.Plans to build a 12,000-capacity mosque in East London were first proposed by the Tablighi Jamaat group in 1999.
The gigantic mosque will have 40-foot minarets, a library, a visitor center and a 300-space car park at the Canning Road site.
But the construction of the Muslim worship place was put on hold over growing opposition, which started as early as 1999 when the group submitted its first plans.
In 2001, the group behind the mosque agreed that worship would only be on a temporary basis.
But opposition to the mosque grew after the 2005 attacks when two bombers were found to have prayed at a Tablighi mosque in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire.
In 2010, the Newham council issued an enforcement notice against the mosque, but the Tablighi Jamaat group successfully appealed against it.
Now, more than 5,000 people worship a week at the site which houses several prefab buildings.
But critics say that Muslim group behind the mega mosque preaches separatism and segregation.
Bukhari said Muslims are concerned on the way the mosque would be governed.
“Not on the grounds that, they don't want to worship their God, but on the grounds that women aren't allowed, the local population, the Muslim population, has no say in how the mosque itself is governed,” he said.
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.
“Mega Mosque No Thanks”
Opponent of the mosque have launched a campaign titled “Mega Mosque: No Thanks” to halt the construction of the Muslim worship place.
“They teach that if you want to be a good Muslim you must separate off from non-Muslims,” said Alan Craig, campaign director of ‘Mega Mosque No Thanks,’ which is actively opposing its construction.
“It's only Tablighi Jamaat – of all the Islamic groups – that has created ghettos over in Toronto, in Canada.
“They're all around the world, this is a huge group and wherever they go they create barriers, hostility, division, they create separatism.”
The website of the campaign contains a checklist for mobilizing activists, including signing an e-petition on the government’s website and contacting local MPs.
Journalist and cultural analyst Dr. Jenny Taylor, founder of religious literacy consulting group Lapido Media, opines that Prime Minster David Cameron’s policy of a multicultural Britain that embraces all ethnic groups will only invite radical ideas.
“The grounds on which they're trying to set-up here in Britain are anti-British, anti-Western,” Taylor said.
“This is not just going to be a Mosque – this is going to be a centre of training, where they are going to try to reach out to Islamist Muslims.
“I meet so many Muslims, who don't want that," he said.
Facing repeated questions about the project, Newham Council, which received the proposal from Tablighi on September 5, declined to comment before taking a decision regarding the mosque plans.
“We can confirm we have received a planning application,” the Newham Council said in a statement.
“As this is currently being processed it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
The Tablighi Jamaat group, however, insists that their purpose is peaceful missionary work.“The door is always open and we are happy to meet and discuss in depth our proposals,” spokesperson for the group’s charitable trust and site owner Anjuman-E-Islahul-Muslimeen has said.
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