CAIRO – Plans to build a mega mosque near the Olympic site in East London have been rejected, to the disappointment of the Muslim community in Britain.
"We are extremely let down,” community leader Ala Uddin Ahmed told the BBC News Online.
“We think it is unjust because of the demand of the local people and the Muslim community."
Newham Council late Wednesday, December 5, voted unanimously to reject plans by the Tablighi Jamaat group to build a 12,000-capacity mosque in East London.
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The council argued that the mosque was too big that would generate traffic jams and cause contamination.
“Councilors considered this application at length and with great care before deciding to reject it,” councilor Conor McAuley, Newham’s executive member for regeneration and strategic planning, told The Independent.
“The council undertook a rigorous and extensive consultation about the proposals in the run-up to this decision.”
Around 3,000 supporters of the mosque plans gathered outside the Newham Council’s town hall ahead of the decision.
Supporters say the mega mosque would help fulfil the religious needs of a growing Muslim community in East London.
"There are 90,000 Muslims around the borough,” Ahmed, the community leader, said.
"The Muslim community is growing and there is need for bigger worship.”
The mosque plans have generated controversy in Britain since they were unveiled in 1999.
The construction of the Muslim worship place was put on hold over growing opposition, which started as early as 1999.
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.
Critics say the group behind the mosque preaches separatism and segregation.
Residents lamented the council’s decision to reject the mosque plans, saying the Muslim worship place would have given Britons a better view of Islam.
“It’s a good thing. People will go there to get education,” Muhammad Khan, a newsagent, told The Independent.
“It is good for the community, especially the children.”
Another local, who gave his name only as David, shares a similar view.
“On paper, it’s great, it’s a celebration of cultures and religion. But in practice you don’t always get that full integration,” he said.
“The EDL are ridiculous. The Islamic community do a lot for the area,” he said, referring to the far-right English Defence League.
The EDL, which emerged in 2009, has held numerous protests against what it calls “Islamic extremism” in Britain.
Far-right groups like the EDL and the British National Party (BNP) are playing the card of immigration to stoke sentiment against Muslims and immigrants.
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.
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