Anti West-Ham ‘mega mosque’ campaign is stepped up a gear
PUBLISHED: 12:00 14 March 2012
More than 3,000 leaflets were delivered to homes in West Ham last week by campaigners opposed to plans for a permanent mosque at the Riverine Centre.
Muslim group Tablighi Jama’at will submit plans in time for the Olympic Games for the 9,500 capacity religious building with 40ft minarets, a visitors centre, a library and a 300-space car park in Canning Road.
Opponents have attempted to steal a march on the group’s trustees by starting a ‘Say No to Mega Mosque’ website, and have claimed it will create a Muslim “ghetto” in West Ham.
But worshippers have said the mosque will welcome people from all faiths and have challenged campaigners to a debate.
Alan Craig, from Newham Concern, recruited 20 volunteers to help with the literature handout.
He reiterated his fears over the motives of Tablighi Jama’at, which he said was isolationist and sexist.
He said: “The aim was to raise awareness among local people, their views are important.
“I am not anti-Muslim at all but the inappropriate size, the fundamentalist nature of the mosque backers and the proposed creation of a custom-built Islamic enclave are all good reasons to stop this project in its tracks.
“We don’t want West Ham to become their global headquarters. This will do harm to the local community.”
The site is already home to a temporary mosque, which survived an attempt by Newham Council in 2010 to remove it on the basis of increased traffic.
If built, the Riverine Centre will be made up of five spaces, featuring nature trails, retail units and public access to West Ham tube station.
Worshipper Yusef Islam, who also had a hand in putting together the proposals, said the mosque is likely to become more popular in the next 10 to 15 years.
He said: “It is a large site so the mosque is not taking up the entire area. It will be for the Muslim community but the visitor centre will be open for anybody to ask questions.
“You’ll see on Friday during Jumah prayers the mosque is absolutely jam packed, with people forced to pray outside.
“If certain people have concerns the door is always open and we are more than happy to meet and discuss in depth our proposals for this scheme.”
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